This past Saturday, I had the opportunity to work with a few other volunteers at the local Habitat for Humanity work site. I’ve helped out there a few times in the past, and it’s awe-inspiring to see how far the various projects have gotten. Last October, I helped set the floor joists in the foundation on two homes. In January, I got to help roof one home. Last weekend, I was able to help hang drywall in another. It’s fun work, and I know that it’s making a difference in people’s lives.
But this past weekend was somewhat bittersweet. The work site I help with is called Vance Place. It’s named for Al Vance, a volunteer with the organization who’s had a hand in just about every house they’ve built over the past decade or two. Really, an impressive accomplishment. I had the opportunity to work with Al the first two times I volunteered with Habitat, and he really made it a fun and rewarding experience.
Which is why I was so sad to hear of his passing two weeks ago.
Al died on the 11th while working at Vance Place of a massive heart attack. It seems fitting that he died while working on a project so dear to him, and I’ve heard they will be erecting a memorial in his honor in the common space of the new neighborhood. It’s a great way to say ‘thank you’ to a man who spent the final 20 years of his life giving so much back to the community.
But it makes me wonder a bit about my life. Am I doing something worthwhile? Am I investing enough of my energy helping to make the world a better place? Days like Saturday make me want to sit back and say ‘yes.’ Other days leave me scratching my head, looking at examples like Al, and wondering why I’m not doing more.
So I’ll continue to devote as much of my free time as I can spare to worthwhile activities – be it Church, Boy Scouts, Habitat, or some other well-intentioned endeavor. I don’t aim to live up to any one specific example, but I hope there will always be role models like Al Vance to look to for inspiration.