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A Trip to Tennessee This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.


     Last spring I heard that a group of teens from my church wasgoing to Tennessee to help repair houses for those whocouldn't afford to have it done. The second I heard about it,I knew I wanted to help, although I was worried about leavingthe comforts of home.

The counselors told us thehouses were in pretty bad condition, and sometimes the peopledidn't have much, but no matter what we saw, we had to try ourhardest to do the job. They emphasized that most importantlywe should just talk to them, since often all they reallywanted was someone to tell their stories to. I thought, I cando that, I can talk to people.

I never knew how luckyI was until I went to Tennessee. When we arrived at the houseof an elderly lady, we found it needed many repairs, but wewere there only to build a wheelchair ramp. When we walkedthrough the door, her face lit up and she started telling usabout herself. Her name was Ethel. With her gray hair set incurlers, she was still in her nightgown, sitting in a brown,comfy chair. By the time we left, we knew all about herchildren and late husband. She told us about where she hadgone, and all the great things she had done.

Althoughshe lived in a tiny house and could hardly walk, she was thehappiest old lady I ever met. She never complained about whereshe lived or what she had; she was proud of herself. Withevery conversation, her smile grew larger. Her friend, Barney,who lived with her, played the guitar for us. He was so proudthat he'd taught himself and had every reason to be; he wasvery good. One of our group asked if he could record himplaying. Barney's face lit up; he couldn't believe anyonewould want to listen to him.

After spending only oneday with these people, I could tell we had made that daybetter, and that they wouldn't forget us for a long time.Being able to talk to them, and see how happy it made them,made me want to help more.




This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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