Well we are on the way back from The Pass. Like normal I think everyone has mixed emotions. Of course we are all looking forward to our own beds, eating what and when we want, and not having to live out of a gym bag, but more than off setting that desire to be home is the wish to make more of a difference.
The last day of every trip is a nice time to recap and reflect on how big of difference the group did make. For all volunteers there is a great temptation to feel as if what they do does not matter much. This temptation is born of many factors but probably the most important is that each volunteer spends most of his/her day so focused on the single job that is being done (and in many cases redone after mistakes have been made), that the bigger picture is ignored.
And to take the time to step back and see the bigger picture when so much needs to be done always seems like an inappropriate luxury. So most volunteers do not take the time. Instead, they diligently work away on their assigned task. And when it is time to leave and go home, they do not, indeed can not, see how large of impact they actually made.
I was fortunate today to have to deliver joint compound to a team out drywalling at the Whavers. This afforded me the opportunity to see just how far the house had come from the beginning of the week. The progress had been substantial: from the shell of a house when the first group from Olean’s First Baptist Church arrived after Christmas; the plumbing had been completed (thanks especially to Dale Andersen for driving down from Olean when he heard there was a great need), the insulation was purchased (wigth the money BonaResponds raised) and installed, the drywall had largely been hung, and some mudding had been started. There was still much work remaining, but the progress had been significant and substantial.
I then drove by Carl’s house. Volunteers from Randy’s had been working on this home off and on since at least May. Scores and scores of volunteers had contributed to the creation of what will soon be a new home for Karl and his gamily. This week, volunteers from (OFBC),
The team formerly known as the tree team, had downed and carted off about 15 trees and helped build a shed and also helped with drywall.
To view from the trenches, where each volunteer had labored long and hard, showed only the seemingly insignificant “I put up a few rows of shingles” or “I hung some drywall”, or “I cut some trees and picked up some branches”. But the view from a bit of distance showed a different story. It showed that the volunteers had accomplished much work this week and they advanced the recovery efforts. Sure there are years of work left, but for at least some of the “Prisoners of Katrina” recovery is a bit closer because of the work the volunteers this week.