HURST– Despite temperatures projected to reach 105° F, volunteers from 6 Stones and AT&T  gathered to spend their Saturday completely revitalizing a veteran's home. They painted, pulled weeds, trimmed trees and cleared brush for Harold, a former Air Force Mechanic whose physical capability to perform such tasks is limited by injuries sustained in service. Some might be quick to call him “disabled” or “wheelchair-bound.” They would be missing the quintessential Harold, and in the process overlooking one of humanity's most basic truths:

We are, all of us, incomplete. And that's a beautiful thing.

“I was in the military, in the air-force. I was injured and I've been disabled for many, many years now.,” said Harold. “It's kind of hard when you were a mechanic — a do everything person — to not be able to do things yourself. They're blessing me, but I know they're going to get a blessing in return… you can only thank God for people who believe in Him and wanna help others.”

Even while he waited for support from the Department of Veteran Affairs and Social Security, Harold stressed that he never lost faith in God. The grandson of a Methodist minister and a Christian since the age of 14, he felt that it was his duty to financially support his local church even when it looked like he would lose his home.

It took five years, but he is now receiving aid through both Social Security and the VA. He has settled all of his debts. Still, there are some projects that he simply can't tackle on his own. That's when volunteers from organizations like AT&T and 6 Stones prove their worth.

“They've been lifesavers,” Harold said. “The Lord is blessing me in ways that I could not even explain.”

AT&T employees try out a new set of skills, working to repaint a home in Hurst.

AT&T employees try out a new set of skills, working to repaint a home in Hurst.

It may be tempting to think of these people, these “lifesavers,” as heroes; idyllic human beings who give of themselves to rescue others. The impact they made is certainly impressive, and that narrative is often the one upon which we land when discussing community service. But the most important lessons we can take from Harold's story is that people — all people, all different — are equally valuable. Harold was not helpless; he was in need of help. Those who responded to his need were not benevolent superiors; they were peers who believed in a superior benevolence. Harold taught us as much as we taught him.

“I come out here to talk to them and support them; let them know a little bit about me and learn a little bit about them,” he said, explaining his near omnipresence on the day of the work. “The one thing that people don't get in this life is compliments and praise for their actions. They're always told what they're doing wrong, but they're never told what they're doing right. I wanted to make sure to change that a little bit today for them.”

6 Stones is built around the joint beliefs that all people are valuable and that all of us can learn from someone else. It's essential for the work we do. To approach a problem as though one person or entity is the holistic solution for it is nothing short of foolish. It damages us by suggestion that some people are superior to others. Rather, we act with the knowledge that each of us has special skills and, more importantly, each of us has limits.

We think that's by design.

With temperatures rising rapidly, volunteers mix hard labor with essential rest.

With temperatures rising rapidly, volunteers mix hard labor with essential rest.

Consequently, we've built a coalition that brings like-minded people together to impact others. For every Harold, waiting to give the gift of encouragement, there's someone who, like 6 Stones project leaders Brian Cramer and Rodney Gattis, are seeking to changes lives. And for each of them, there's a Carla Huseman to make things happen.

“I was in the Air Force and we used to do this as events in the military,” said Carla, an Area Manager at AT&T and the woman who rallied the batch of volunteers who worked on Harold's home. “I just like the before and after… the transformation of it all.”

It's an element that pulls all of us in; the signature spice in TV recipes that corner the market for home improvement projects. Transformation captivates us; it's hard-wired into us. We aren't perfect, and for that reason we love to see teams coming together to erase imperfections. Flawed people can make flawed things look flawless. It's a beautiful process that reveals the ways in which people function.

“We're AT&T and we're proud of our company,” Carla said, emphasizing her belief in unity found through this kind of work. “I think it's good for someone to see us out here, not just at a retail store. We're in offices all day and we just talk on the phone, so it's good to get out here and team-build.”

Volunteers from AT&T join 6 Stones for a Community Powered Revitalization (CPR) Event

Volunteers from AT&T join 6 Stones for a Community Powered Revitalization (CPR) Event

Carla brought her team to Harold's house for a multitude of reasons. They learned teamwork, respect and more about each other than they could in the confines of an office. But this project was about more than doing something good for someone else. It was about responding to a need and empowering others to do the same. Thanks to their hard work, Harold can now give back to those closest to him.

“I'm so far behind, I'm never going to catch up,” said Harold of the work needed to restore his home. “I'm trying to help out my daughters by being a daycare for them to help them with some expense. I'm going to be helping my church out on the board. Things that I can do with my mind. It still works good; it's just my body that's failing me. The Lord still gave me some gifts to give to others and I just hope that when he points me in a direction, I respond.”

When people like Harold and Carla are pointed in a direction and respond, things change. On this Saturday in August, 6 Stones was blessed to be a part of that response. As volunteers from AT&T battled the Texas heat and Harold scooted around, encouraging each of them in turn, I couldn't help but marvel at the way people are put together. It was abundantly clear on this site — as men and women who accustomed to office work embraced a new brand of challenge and learned a new set of skills — that while none of us are complete in and of ourselves, all of us are part of a complete whole.

We can't all paint or rake or rev a chainsaw, nor would the world function if all of us were in charge of planning projects or providing lunch. I can tell you firsthand, however, that the delivery of a sandwich and a bottle of water meant something different to these volunteers than it would to the average person on an average weekend.

It meant sustenance. Strength. Encouragement. It meant one person's offering to the greater whole. It cried our that things work better when we all contribute something; even if it's something we thought was nothing at all. It testified that there's no such thing as a small gift, just as there's no such thing as a perfect person.


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