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Service is Our Antidote to Hopelessness

Posted by Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity on 10:00 AM on January 18, 2021

Guest blog by Maddie Christy, 
Construction Volunteer Facilitator and AmeriCorps Service Member 

Following my sophomore year of college, I spent a summer working as a “storytelling intern” with a non-profit organization in Florida whose mission is to fight hunger worldwide through agricultural training for small-scale farmers. I began the summer as a journalism major who thought she might like to write for a non-profit as a career.

Maddie painting a doorframe in a Habitat home.Maddie painting a doorframe at a Habitat home.

After spending my days helping harvest honey from beehives, chopping down coconut trees to add to the compost pile, and learning new methods for rooftop gardening in urban settings, I realized that working behind a camera or a notepad might not be the place for me (at least not for the time being). As soon as I returned to my university in the fall I added another major that would equip me to serve and lead in more hands-on and tangible ways.

When I tell the story of my passion for service I always point to those weeks shadowing volunteers and staff on the farm as the start of it all. I have always believed deeply in the work that nonprofits are doing, but something about getting my own hands dirty with the work instilled an urgency in me to find ways to pursue service on the front lines of the fight in a lasting capacity.

The fight at the farming organization was ending hunger. Here at Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity it's fighting to realize our deep conviction that all people are worthy of safe, stable shelter.

My day to day work serving as a Construction Volunteer Facilitator isn’t always glamorous. Some days I learn how to build stairs or climb up on roofs to install vents, and I feel like we’ve really made meaningful progress on our project. Other days I am alone painting in a room all day or hunched over for eight hours sanding down wood floors. On those not-so-glamorous days I am motivated to keep working because I know that even painting and sanding help build a home for a family — and that matters.

In a year that has held so much individual and collective grief, death, injustice, anger, uncertainty, disunity, disagreement— and maybe as a culminating effect, a feeling of deep hopelessness, I am grateful to spend a year serving with an organization that is committed to providing glimmers of hope to the hopeless through our everyday work.

I’ve saved my personal motto for this year of service as a screensaver on my phone. These words, adapted from a Bible verse, say, “Build houses and live in them. Plant gardens and eat their produce. Multiply and grow there. Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you, for in its welfare you also will find your welfare.” Every day these words remind me to seek the welfare of this city. I am proud to work alongside volunteers, staff, and homeowners who understand that our city will only begin to heal when we dig in right in the middle of the wrestling and uncertainty and seek our mutual welfare.

Minneapolis has been through a lot this year. The Twin Cities metro has been through a lot this year. The world has been through a lot this year. We are all carrying some level of hurt and hardship. In the midst of that, I have learned that one antidote to hopelessness is to serve. When we can come together and use our time, talents, and efforts to see and meet the needs of others, I can’t help but see glimpses of good in the world.


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Tags: AmeriCorps, 2021

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