As Homeowner Liaisons, Dale and Joyce Turns are perhaps the most important element of the Community Powered Revitalization program. They personally meet with homeowners in the city of Euless to chronicle their need, the state of their home and the scope of work required for its repair. In their retirement, they are the connecting point between 6 Stones and the people we serve; the keepers of countless stories of fear and renewal and hope. And they can't imagine doing anything else.
“We feel very blessed to be in the position we're in, to be able to help and have certain skills and talents, knowing that there's people out there that didn't have a clue how they could possibly get help,” Dale said. “They have very little or no money, and hats off to the city leaders in Euless for recognizing the value and worth of the CPR program.”
Between the incredible leadership — in every city we've worked with, not just Euless — and the passionate service of men and women like Joyce and Dale, it's hard to look at the CPR program and not feel as though we've been guided into something astounding. Each year, thousands of volunteers rally to the aid of dozens of homeowners who find themselves lacking the resources or ability to maintain their homes. That need, rather than handicapping them, becomes an entry point for citizens of the community to inspire and equip each other for a better life through CPR.
“People do want to help other people; they just don't know where to begin,” Joyce observed. “Once we've helped these families get things under control, they keep it up. They keep their houses up. They keep their yards up. And we've also noticed that the neighbors will start doing everything the same way.”
It's that sense of shared community, the idea that we are all an important part of the cities in which we live, that drives the program. It's one thing to breeze through a neighborhood in need, patch it up and leave. It's another to inspire homeowners to reach for more. If all we did was paint a few houses and wait for them to need another coat, we'd be of no value to this community.
But we repair more than houses.
It's easy to think that one has nothing of value when the collective rhetoric of society enforces a sense that one's value comes from one's possessions. There's an unspoken understanding that you are to this world what you can offer it, and that a lack of tangible product makes a person somehow less important or valuable. Under that logic, if your home is in need of repair and you can't fix it on your own, then there must be something wrong with you.
We whole-heartedly reject that implicit understanding of the world. And, after being exposed to a community that stands against it, many homeowners do, as well.
“For people that get into a position like those that we help, whether it's subliminal or they really think through it, bottom line is [they think:] ‘Nobody cares. Why should they? I'm not blaming them. They've all got their problems and I've got mine.'” Dale said, explaining the mindset that has been slowly impressed upon the men and women we are blessed to work with. “And to see that even people that have problems — maybe bigger than theirs — will come and help… we've had more than one family that came to us and we helped and they come and volunteer now.”
CPR — and 6 Stones on the whole — takes the “radical” stance that all people are equally valuable members of Creation, despite the various dents and cracks that each of us carries in our person. A lack of money, a physical challenge or a difficult home situation should not make an individual any less worthy of love or any less capable of expressing it.
That's the message we as a community send when hundreds of us — each with our own unique histories of poor decisions and bad credit and inexperience — give our time to help each other stand up after life knocks us down.
“We've noticed with the families we've worked with that they are in awe that strangers would come out and do this for them for nothing.” Joyce said. “A lot of times these people are hopeless and I think this program really brings hope into their lives.” Her husband was quick to add his thoughts: “This thing works. You see some of what I would call the God-given humanity that was present and He wants us to have showing up. People see it.”
When a person is lost, there's a sense of impending disaster about them. In a vast ocean of problems, it's easy to give up hope and slowly drown in despair. But that same person, in that same setting, given a life raft, has hope. The difference between the impossible and the achievable is that sense that one can hold on just a little longer; that the destination is just on the edge of the foreseeable journey. CPR is the distant lighthouse beckoning travelers to come home. When people respond to that signal, that sense of hope, something wonderful happens.
“People see it happening and they know we don't have to be isolated neighbors who happen to live next door to each other. We can all go out, everybody does their part… and it makes the entire community develop into a sense of awareness almost like a big happy family,” Dale said, after relating the story of a little girl whose mother sent her across the street to a CPR house in progress to ask how they could help on the next one.
“We need to have pride in where we live,” Joyce added. “That's what the Lord calls us to do; to love our neighbor.” For the Turns family, there is no better system than CPR to answer a call set on their hearts by God: the desire to serve as humble equals with other people who need Him just as much as they do. The desire to restore a sense of value and humanity sabotaged by hopelessness. The desire to love, in spite of any obstacle.