Now in its 13th year, the largest event for Habitat for Humanity, Building Freedom Day, was born out of the tragedy of September 11, 2001. A Habitat homeowner suggested that Habitat raise the walls on multiple homes for hardworking families as a way to heal the community. On Thursday, September 11, 2014, several St. Philippians joined more than 300 Building Freedom Day volunteers to help Habitat for Humanity Tucson continue this legacy of building hope from the ashes of tragedy and honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice.
This year, the walls of four new homes in the Copper Vista neighborhood were raised. Additionally, volunteers assisted in repairing and painting neighbor’s homes, completing a mural, planting trees, and laying the foundation for a community garden. Through this program, Habitat ensures that neighbors get the same opportunity for a hand up as the new homeowners, and that the communities thrive.
“Building Freedom Day began as a way to heal the community,” said T. VanHook, Chief Executive Director. “By focusing on others and providing an activity that answers a pressing community need, people are not only called to action, but it is also a way for us to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice.” Since the first Building Freedom Day in 2002, more than 7,300 volunteers have come together to construct a total of 84 Habitat homes at Building Freedom Day. Each volunteer has had a hand in changing the lives of those families forever.
“… the volunteers seemed to have a good time while staying productive. They went home with a sense of accomplishment. The future homeowners were on site, and their sense of quiet gratitude was coming through … It seems almost like magic, to take a large number of unskilled people, a few more knowledgeable ones, and mostly frame someone’s home in a day. I have done it many times with a pro crew, but this was special,” said Bruce Hallowell, Long Cares Foundation Board Member and Habitat Building Freedom Day Volunteer.
The new neighborhood, Copper Vista, is located about a quarter of a mile south east of the intersection of Park Avenue and Drexel Road.
As well as providing tool-wielders, St. Philip’s served as a sponsor of Building Freedom Day 2014. “We are glad to have such committed partners like St. Philip’s in tackling the big issues in this community,” said a Habitat representative.
Participating St. Philippians included the Rev. John Kitagawa, Kathy Kitagawa, the Rev. Vicki Hesse, Eric Carrizales, Bill Sartor, and Nancy Atherton.
In October, some of St. Philip’s Vestry members and 20s/30s/40s spent a Saturday morning participating in “Brush with Kindness,” another Habitat project. The goal of A Brush with Kindness is to help families maintain the exterior of their homes while bringing volunteers and neighbors together by helping a homeowner in need. Through exterior home repairs, individuals can live in safe, decent homes and restore hope and pride to their community. In addition, unsightly trash and vegetation are removed from vacant lots, helping to cut down on illegal activities and make the neighborhood a safer place. A Brush with Kindness activities help foster a sense of community involvement among neighbors.
On October 31, the Rev. Canon John Kitagawa dedicated a Habitat house for the Willie-Doewah family.
Gracious God, we give heartfelt thanks for all who have labored to make this house dedication possible—for contributors, for volunteers, for the Habitat for Humanity Tucson Board and staff, and for the homeowners. We thank you for the spirit of cooperation and dedication which brought together diverse peoples to accomplish this sacred task.
Today, gracious God, this house becomes a home for the Willie-Doewah family. So, we ask you, loving God, to bless this home and all who will dwell within. May this house be for them a sanctuary of safety and security, rest and peace, recreation and love. May it be a place of hospitality for friends and strangers alike. May all who enter this home know the presence of your love. All this we pray in your Holy Name. AMEN.
Remplis nos Coeur de reconnaissance pour tous tes bienfaits, o notre Pere, et fais que nous nous souvenions des autres dans leurs besoins; par Jesus-Christ, notre Seigneur. AMEN