The Gift of Giving Back

The bus was moved, and another family stared ahead, awed at the transformation of their home.

Through Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, I spent several days of my life, along with hundreds of other people, helping a local family who not only lost their home to a fire, but also two members of their family.

As I worked in the home’s pantry, I overheard Carol – the mom – on the phone. The family had received all new clothes and household items from Sears and other vendors, and she was speaking with a local church group about the excess of clothing and household items she now had—she wanted to donate them. As I listened to her, all of the work, sleepless nights, energy and time I spent away from my family became truly worth it. I had helped do a good thing for a great family.

iStock 000042059630LargeGiving back to the community is something I hold very near to me. It has become second nature. Through giving back, I have met some of the greatest people in the world.

I have met people that inspire me to greatness — friends that remind me that I have a purpose; that I can make a difference. I have met people who have suffered the greatest losses of life and property, yet they still have a positive attitude and outlook on life. These folks have reminded me that the trials I may be enduring in my business or family life, often pale in comparison to the grief or despair being faced by another. I hope that by sharing my experience, I can help to inspire others to look for opportunities to serve.

The youngest son of the family I mentioned earlier in this post, is now an employee of mine and pursuing a career path in construction management. He has become a friend, and his energy and humor brighten everyone’s day.

The family’s oldest daughter, Jacqueline, was married the day after Thanksgiving. My wife and I, along with others from the team that helped build their house, were guests and were able to share the joy of Jacqueline’s special day. We stood as witnesses and friends to a family who six years ago was just a headline in a local newspaper. Jacqueline’s brothers, Lucas and Adam, danced the traditional Father-Daughter dance with her, standing in for her father, who had passed away.

Though we came together to celebrate Jacqueline, we were overwhelmed with emotion after discovering a card that Carol had left out for the Home Makeover team. And in reading the kind words she wrote, the scope of the difference that we made six years prior was finally realized: We didn’t just build a new house; we helped construct a home. We are a part of their family; they are a part of ours.

I learned a great lesson from my friend and fellow writer Peter Morneault. While discussing the “skilled” and “non-skilled” work force that would be on site during the Extreme Makeover: Home Edition build, Peter paused and said, “We all have skills. They may not be in construction, but we all have skills.”

I have been blessed with the ability to build things. I can see in my mind’s eye how things go together and can lead a group of people to complete a project or task. When I am able to put these skills together, amazing things are accomplished. I am not alone, however—people all across the nation and the world do this every day for the betterment of society.

As move through this holiday season and into 2015, I encourage you to find a way to give back to the community around you, whether you are a “skilled” trades person or possess another ability or talent. Find a cause that is near to you or a family in need; buy a coffee for the person next to you in line. Not only during this time of year, but make it a habit. I promise you, you will be rewarded in ways you cannot imagine.

Every day, I strive to have a positive impact. Sometimes I hit the mark, occasionally I fall short; but I always try.

I have learned that making a difference is more important than making a dollar. Let’s build some pride in our communities together. For more information on ways to start volunteering, visit