We hear a lot about Cities nowadays. Sports franchises play for them, superheroes fight to save them and talented people put them on the map. There's something about a city — a place defined as much by its people as it is by geography or infrastructure — that inspires. It elevates us beyond a sense of home and into a sense of unity. It gives us community.
We saw that in Cleburne over the weekend. And we saw it everywhere.
“Last year, our managing member and CEO, Cody Yarborough was part of the 6 Stones event and it was something that really moved him,” said Boval Biosolutions' Rachel Mitchell, a volunteer site captain at one of five homes renovated by 6 Stones during the most recent Community Powered Revitalization blitz. “We're a small manufacturing company in Cleburne, very community and family oriented, so we talked about it as a company and we decided we would close the plant today and bring our helping hands out for 6 Stones; get everyone together to come and be a part of the community of Cleburne that we all love.”
“We make a living by what we do, but we make a life by what we give.”
Rachel's team saw perhaps the most dramatic transformation in the two-day event. Many houses needed new paint, some needed demolition work and others even had to have new carpentry. This home needed all of that. Along with a new foundation and an electrical overhaul.
Pre-work had been going at the site for over a week when Boval's volunteers arrived to help clear debris, remove old paint and refresh the home. The motto on their shirts set the tone for the weekend: “We make a living by what we do, but we make a life by what we give.”
Between October 3rd and 4th, some 357 men and women from the city of Cleburne made a life. More than that, they changed lives. They were living testaments to a Truth we've long known and too often forgotten: that people are valuable, and that we find our value when we give of ourselves to others.
“We couldn't do this all by ourselves.”
The house Boval renovated belonged to a shy single mother whose four children all but live in her back yard. Between sports, school and volunteering, the family is spread all around the city. Their quality time comes in the form of tag, swings, trampolines and bicycles, but their home was hardly insulated enough for the interior to feel different from the yard. Her daughters shared a pair of bunk beds beneath a broken window pane.
“We couldn't do this all by ourselves, we're just too little,” said the second oldest of the children. “My mom, she needs a big support!” There is no better description of the work that we were blessed to direct than those simple words: Big Support.
CPR, when you really boil it down, isn't about fixing homes. It's about restoring lives. Repairing people. Not by sending those of us who are unbroken to fix those of us who are, but by bringing together men and women whose personal failings and flaws are insignificant when measured against their love.
“I thought that this ended years ago, but it's still going on. People are helping each other and it's wonderful.
Many of our volunteers come from churches, from congregations that want to express some measure of the love shown to them at the cross. We had site captains and group leaders from church initiatives all over Cleburne, from programs with names like “Labor For Your Neighbor” and “Cleburne for Christ.” It's hard to separate the sacred from the secular during a CPR blitz, and that's a very good thing.
“I am truly thankful and blessed that they're here,” said Charlie, an out-of-work truck driver whose home needed a complete face-lift. “I thought that this ended years ago, but it's still going on. People are helping each other and it's wonderful. It's a blessing.” He hopes to pass his revitalized home down to his children and grandchildren.
The home had fallen into disrepair while his mother was hospitalized, and between visiting her and driving his truck there was no time to repair it. Materials gathered for the purpose sat unused in his garage until 6 Stones and a team from Lowe's arrived to put them to good use. Charlie joined them in the yard, eager to pick up any construction knowledge he could.
“We prayed about it and we knew: some way, some how God would come through. We just had to stay faithful.” said Julia, Charlie's wife. She believes that something greater is coming through the work done on their home. “I think this is making believers out of [our neighbors]. It's just a full-out testimony of what God can do in answering prayer and how people can come together and be a community; help one another out… it really makes this whole block look revitalized just because our house is being worked on.”
“Some people are disabled or financially disabled, but that doesn't mean that they're less of people. I love that about 6 Stones. They're willing to invest in people no matter what.”
Charlie and Julia both plan to volunteer in the next blitz, having caught hold of something that seems to be spreading around Cleburne like the Gospel itself.
“It's really our pleasure to do this service because Christ came and died for us and gave us a new life. Rescued us. Redeemed us out of that pit of despair and gave us new hope,” said Kara Olson, a faculty adviser for the student-led Cleburne for Christ. “Hopefully we can share that with [homeowners]… that we can help him out and give that love, it's just kind of a cycle of sharing the love that's given to us every day.”
That passion, combined with selflessness from corporate groups like Boval, makes each of these blitzes something special. It's not about doing community service. It's not about feeling good. It's about living to a higher potential. Reaching toward a harmony that is part of our design.
“I didn't know what I was getting into, but as I've gotten into the organization and I see what they're doing, I think it's important,” said Wayne Gann, a former contractor and the youth pastor at The Heights Church in Cleburne. “Who is going to take care of us if it ain't us? Somebody's got to step up and begin to take care of our community because not everybody can take care of themselves. Some people are disabled or financially disabled, but that doesn't mean that they're less of people. I love that about 6 Stones. They're willing to invest in people no matter what.”
“…this is the greatest thing that can happen to Cleburne.”
Wayne led a group of rambunctious junior high students in the revitalization of a home that had been waiting more than a decade for assistance. The owners had hired a contractor almost 15 years ago, but never saw their dollars put to use. Unable to repair the home themselves, they opted simply to grin and bear it.
Their situation worsened when a prescription for Abilify went awry, inducing Parkinsons in the family's breadwinner and limiting him to a walker on his best days and a computer screen on his worst. They needed a new ramp leading to their front door, a rotting shed demolished in order to reclaim their yard, and fresh paint to weather-proof their home. But more than that, they needed an infusion of life.
And they got the liveliest batch of volunteers we saw all weekend.
“I think this is the greatest thing that can happen to Cleburne,” said Mary, the matriarch of the home. “there's a lot of people here in Cleburne who need help.” For her, there was no doubt that these (over)zealous laborers were a direct answer to prayer. Most strikingly, however, she was less concerned that the work be completed than that those working walk away transformed. “It's a memory for them. It'll help them later on, because they volunteered to do this. It'll help them when it comes time for them to find jobs,” she observed. “It's the best thing that could happen to these kids.”
“Everybody went back to school with paint all over themselves. They're going to have a hard time getting all that paint off, but they had a good time.”
That's the embodiment of a CPR blitz: people get a little dirty on their way to something beautiful. It's a good reminder that none of us is flawless, whether we're painting or planning or needing someone's help. Humans are imperfect, but we close in on perfection when we unite in accordance with our design.
That's what we're investing in: the idea that no person is more or less valuable than any other. That we were given our worth by something beyond ourselves, and that we'll never turn a true profit if we try to shy away from those resources. We invest in people because there is nothing else worth investing in.
Care to join us?