At some point on almost every weekday, when you walk into our reception area, you’re likely to find one or two little kids sitting in kid-sized crimson chairs (borrowed from the Home Center) coloring at a small table or reading from our modest stack of children’s books.
These little folks are waiting (mostly patiently) while their folks sit in a back office listening to a staff member explain the process of becoming a Habitat homeowner. These little ones, of course, aren’t aware that this particular meeting could mean a huge turning point in their family’s lives and in their own futures. Looking at their smiley faces, listening to the squeals and giggles and shy hellos, I sometimes wonder where these kids will be in 10 years, or 20 years, should they have the opportunity for a simple, basic, secure home, maybe even a room of their own, a place to play with friends and to do (yuck) homework.
Or where they will be if they don’t.
Passing by on my way to my own office, I can glimpse the moms and dads listening intently as they learn about the commitment required, the guidelines that must be followed, the very hard work it will take – there is concern, anxiety, uncertainty reflected on their faces, but hope can be seen too, as they realize that what has seemed an impossible dream could actually be within their grasp.
As a member of the Habitat team, I feel humbled when I realize what a significant impact Habitat has made and continues to make in people’s lives. NOT – it is vital to remember – by providing handouts, but, rather by enabling, by helping people realize their potential and providing the tools and support they need to create the lives they dream of.
I like the way our board Chairman Todd Heckman puts it. He says Habitat is not so much a builder of homes as a builder of homeowners.
If you do ever walk into our little office you’ll likely get to meet the friendly and efficient young woman behind the reception counter – Viola Fields – who is great at keeping restless kids occupied and at handling all sorts of things throughout the day – from phone calls (tons of these), to visitors who come in to make payments, ask questions, attend meetings and classes, deliver things.
She also organizes our supplies, keeps the copier running and tends to all those zillions of other random tasks that seem to fall under the deceptively simple job title – Receptionist.
Oh, and, if you ever want to make Viola’s day – bring CHOCOLATE. Just sayin’.
Have a good one.
Sam Baita, Public RelationsIndian River Habitat for Humanity 772.562.9860 X220sbaita@irchabitat.org