This is Deidra Sloss and I’m going to talk about my experience being in Lake Murray, South Carolina. The house we were working on was affected by the floods back in October 2015 and was located in the Blythewood area. Thankfully, the house had minor damage in comparison to other homes and the structure of the house was able to be saved. By the time we got there, the roof had been replaced, there was previous termite damage to also deal with, but our main job was to paint, put up insulation, put up drywall, and clear out the yard.
I’m in an officer position in one organization on campus, but I never really thought of myself as a leader. I will say, however, that being in an officer position did make volunteering on this particular project a bit easier. Being in any type of leadership position, you have to be ready and willing to go in and do what needs to be done, even if you don’t want to and you will sometimes complain about it. Was I scared to get up on the extension ladders and the taller A-frame ladders? Absolutely. Was I tired of smelling and dealing with paint and primer after day 2 on the site? Without a doubt. Was I tired of pouring over each and every tiny detail in order to make it perfect because it just seemed like I was doing the same thing over and over and it looked no different? Of course. But each day that we pulled up at the site, I was ready to do what I was able to and to the best of my ability. I think most people have that kind of initiative; I definitely didn’t want to paint any more than most people but when nobody else really wanted to do it, I volunteered so that others could have a break, and it takes a certain type of person to maintain that initiative. I think I did a pretty good job of maintaining my willingness to work just as hard as everyone else and I definitely had a good group to work with that wanted to work just as hard as I wanted to.
While we worked away in the hot sun, it would have been easy to get bored, distracted and lazy, but being in my position as a mere secretary in my organization, I have often found myself as a mediator between other officers and the members. I try to keep the mood light. I definitely didn’t do that all on my own on this trip. My other group members and I worked together and helped keep the mood light and fun and the hours (and we did work a full day) passed easily, even though we were all exhausted by the end of the day.
Looking back on those days that we spent Columbia, Lake Murray, and Blythewood, I remain absolutely amazed by the willingness and goodness in the hearts of people. I am inspired by the people we were so fortunate to work with like Cat and Will with the St. Bernard Project, who led us through making big changes on this house for the few days that we were there. I learned more about houses and construction than I ever hoped to learn at this point in my life, though don’t be mistaken, I don’t want to see exterior paint or primer for a while. Getting the chance to meet the little Tiana who would be living in the house once it is completed was such a blessing and I felt even more fortunate to be able to be a part of helping bring a smile to her face. I know as I go forward in my life, I will think back on this time and know that the reason I volunteer is not only because it’s the right thing to do, but being able to help someone else smiles makes anything that I do going forward so much more important than it would have been otherwise. And as I go forward into teaching overseas, I can only hope to impact the lives of the children I’ll be teaching and I can only hope to be as open to letting them impact my life as well. I’ve learned so much about people and and giving that I am only renewed in the legit awesomeness of humanity.
I don’t know what struggles Tiana’s family has gone through or will have to go through, but I am glad that, for the few days that our group was there, we were able to make them laugh and make them smile as we worked on their now purple painted house.