Every year, I ask myself the same thing: “how can we tell the story of Community-Powered Revitalization again without re-telling it?” There’s only so many ways to show people painting a house before it all starts to feel familiar. But it’s important to me that everyone understands that CPR is anything but commonplace. In the last few years, I’ve spent hundreds of hours filming, editing, and sharing the stories that happen behind the scenes during our events. And I am constantly reminded that nothing is ever as simple as it appears to be.
So let me take you behind the scenes. Let me show you some of the things I had to leave on the cutting room floor. Let me tell you about a Whole Community.
Homeowners: The Unseen Battle
Many of our volunteers work all weekend without meeting the people they are serving. Even when you hear about a homeowner, you often get a piece of their story and not the entire thing. Only a few can fit into the recap, and none of them at length.
Take Cyndi, the single mom from Watauga who appeared in the video above. You saw a hint of her fearless devotion to her son there; got a taste of the hope she was given. But what I couldn’t show you — and what I’m excited to tell you now — is that the house you helped to repair this weekend is her castle, fought for even after it was purchased.
She thinks about leaving it every so often, when the repairs are too costly and the upkeep demands too much of her two-person family. But she draws strength to continue from a note her son wrote to thank her for buying it. That note hangs next to her bed now, in a house she is finally proud to call home.
There were forty-two other homeowners in this blitz alone. Forty-two more men and women like Cyndi, who felt the love of their neighbors and found hope to keep fighting. Veterans. Aging couples. Survivors. I'll have the pleasure of telling those stories for months to come, but no matter how many I tell, I fear that we will never truly understand the power of what was done in each of their lives.
In Bedford, Darrell got the peace of mind that his home would be worth something when he passed it on to his children. In Euless, Roseanna and her son were inspired by the kindness of strangers; another small blessing to count as they continue to fight cancer. A fight which, in the twenty-four-year-old’s estimation, can only be won by focusing on the positive. They wept over the ammunition your kindness afforded them.
Volunteers: The Unstoppable Force
So let’s talk about you, our volunteers. All 1,476 of you. Because if you think that only 43 lives were changed this weekend, you’ve completely missed the point.
Let me tell you about Susan, the energetic woman at the end of that recap video. You could probably tell from her brief appearance that she has an enthusiastic, compassionate, Christ-following soul. But you might not have known that CPR saved her life four years ago.
In 2013, Susan volunteered with her church. She expected to spend a few hours gardening; a hobby she wanted to share with someone in need. She ended up in a hospital, where doctors found that the unexpected strain he experienced while volunteering was caused by a massive tumor in her brain. The staff operated soon after, and Susan has been healthy ever since.
Melena'ati, whose youth group adopted a home near their church, came out to support a completely different kind of health. For her — and the dozen or so students she takes on Mission all over the world — this weekend was about living out the command of Jesus Christ himself to serve those less fortunate than ourselves. But what you didn’t see above is that her service is part of a family legacy that she’s hoping to pass on to a four-year-old child some day.
Hundreds of others volunteered last weekend, all for their own (sometimes similar) reasons. Corporations took the opportunity to give back to their community, to serve veterans, and to unite their employees. Churches reached out to bring hope to the hopeless. Ordinary citizens of every size, shape, and creed joined together to build their own community. There’s simply no way to express the power of this event.
Community: The End Game
Whether you’re new to 6 Stones or you’ve been here from the beginning, we want you to leave here with one simple-but-not-easy thought. It takes everyone in a community to build a healthy community. If you don’t engage the whole city, the city will never be whole. It's a team effort. That’s how we got to 200 homes in Euless this year. So every story I tell you and every restored home I show off should be pointing you in the same direction.
We were created for relationships.
Whether you’re a mayor shooting a toy basketball with high school students from the city next door or one of three hundred plus Lockheed Martin employers out to help veterans in your own backyard, you're a part of that. Your neighbors need you, and you need them. And we hope that you discovered that this weekend. I hope that you discovered the beauty instilled in all of us by our Creator. More importantly, I hope you heard someone explaining exactly who He is and what He did for us.
No matter how you spent the weekend, however, I’m sure of this: it changed you. In some way, big or small, it made you think a little differently. Connected you a little more. Inspired you. Brought you to the same conclusion to which everyone in that video seemed to arrive.
That’s how you make a community whole.