H.O.M.E. This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

By
   On July 16th, I piled into a van for the vacation of a lifetime. I wasn't going to Hawaii or the Caribbean Islands. I was going to Orland, Maine where H.O.M.E. is for many people and hundreds of volunteers every summer. H.O.M.E., Homemakers Organized for More Employment, is an organization that provides jobs, food, education, temporary shelter, and home ownership to people and families in need.

As we pulled up to the co-op I began to think, Where am I? What did I get myself into? We piled out and started to look around. It was too much to take in. My first impression was that I was in a ghost town. There was one street with four houses on each side, each with a sign identifying it. There was a co-op, a craft store, buildings for pottery and weaving, a chapel, a museum, an education building and a mill. There were no more than two cars and about the same number of people.

My feelings quickly changed as I headed up to the "loft," our living quarters for the next week. We met our roommates and settled in. After I unpacked I took a walk. I headed over to the Craft Store. Inside two older ladies turned to greet me and we started to talk. They gave me some material on the organization. I found out this ghost town was very important. Each building helped people get their lives in order. The Craft Store was full of itmes created by those living in the houses that surrounded the town. Every kind of craft from quilts to dolls was here. I thanked these ladies and continued my walk, thinking this might not be so bad after all. I read about every building and its purpose. The Education building holds classes for children and adults to better qualify for jobs. The Co-op is the food store and the "loft" was located above it.

The next morning we walked over to the craft store to find out what kind of work we would be doing. Sedwick, the lot where the newest houses were being built, is where I spent my week. We sanded and plastered the insides of two homes and roofed another. Every day we would be covered in white paint from head to toe but I didn't mind, nor did I mind the fact that the showers at the loft were not working. We simply improvised and took our showers, or baths, in a nearby lake. My trip was full of first-time experiences. I did a lot of new things like plaster a house. I slept in a room with twenty-five strangers, shared three bathrooms and learned the value of patience. I learned to value my education from Steve. He had dropped out of school at sixteen and worked. He had been mudding houses ever since. He said if he had it to do again he wouldn't have dropped out, and he made sure we understood the value of our education. I have a better understanding of what it means to have a roof over my head. I had taken everything I own for granted. This trip turned out to be very sobering and rewarding.

On Friday, the people who were to receive the house arrived. The families must give a certain number of hours of labor. The mother and her little children walked through the house discussing plans for each room. I thought we were handing the family gold instead of a new home. I will always treasure their expressions.

I stopped what I was doing and just looked around. I was trying to decide who had the better end of the deal me - or the family. Yes, they receive a new house, but I was able to travel, stay with my friends, and enjoy myself while helping others. I volunteered a week and received smiles and thanks that will last forever. I am now thankful for every possession, including my toothbrush and my own bed.

Where am I? What did I get myself into? I am in a small ghost town in a small town in Maine. I am helping people less fortunate and discovering a part of me at the same time. I am changing my view of life and becoming more aware of others. I am proud to say I now am the first person to bring in canned food for all the food drives. My name is also on the top of the list for the trip next summer. I also believe both the family and I are winners. Yes, they got the prize but I won intangibles that have changed my life indefinitely. I really do believe H.O.M.E. is where the heart is. fl


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






Join the Discussion

This article has 1 comment. Post your own now!

JLover said...
May 29, 2010 at 4:38 am

This is beautiful and I couldnt agree more.

Thank you =)

 
bRealTime banner ad on the left side
Site Feedback