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Building Houses-Building Lives

Recently I went with a small group of my peers to build houses with Habitat for Humanity in New Burgh, New York. We managed to completely finish the foundation for two levels of an abandoned home. New Burgh is a small town right along the Hudson, upstate. In the distant past it was a thriving community due to the trade along the river, but now its a somewhat war-torn land constantly being ravaged by rivaling gangs who not only influence, but control the day to day minutia of everyday lives. The police make arrests night and day, but then only newer gangs come into play which only bores deeper hatred into older gangs resulting in more violence. Urban decay began to creep upon the town as many of its people fled to the outskirts leaving it in a state of vacancy. In the early 1970's the economy began to be decay as well, so, the government came up with the urban renewal plan where they utterly demolished several square blocks of homes on the waterfront. The people who lived there were to be relocated while their homes were rebuilt. Today the area still stands vacant as the government neglected to rebuild. The people are still waiting. Throughout the interior homes have began to rot. People were pushed either out, or into the more gang influenced areas. Most people live in raw terror. I went to help because these people's children are growing up in terrible neighborhoods with one of the worst influences that could be brought upon them. They grow up in a world of hatred, lies, and evil. I personally needed to do something to help these people. I would usually lay in my bed at night in the peaceful quiet thinking of how many others could not do the same as I. But what could I do about it? I would think back to the midnight run I went on earlier in my school year where I ,with twelve other students, made around 200 bagged lunches and drove around Manhattan until midnight giving them out to the homeless. I would think of the saying that you could feed someone for a day, but teach them something to last a lifetime. Well these people needed more than just food. The families that would be chosen to live in the homes needed a new life. So I thought how on earth could I do such a thing? Then I learned of Habitat for Humanity. Our school organized a trip and I had my permission slip in the day after. These people would finally be able to live happily, this is what I based my actions upon. Only positive consequences came out of my experience. I learned even more about New Burgh, and more importantly that their were still people that cared. We ate lunch every day at a local church surrounded by abandoned homes. The lovely women who cooked for us radiated a certain type of hope that they knew everything would one day get better,and along with them went the other volunteers working on the house with us. They taught me that their is still hope everywhere in this world, even in the most ghastly of places. I think that the people who will most benefit will be those that move into the completed homes. Not only will they be able to start anew, but they will have an enormous negative influence cast off their shoulders. The people will have a home at a cheaper price than that of the expensive outskirts, and they can have their children grow up in safety. This is my good deed.





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