Text by Elizabeth Phillips, Volunteer
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” – John 13:34-35
In 2012, my then-6-year-old daughter watched me stumble, exhausted and covered in mud, into our house after Community Powered Revitalization (CPR). It had been a long weekend. I spent most of my Friday and almost all of my Saturday battling a mud pit in a stranger’s backyard. I probably would have given up on the whole thing if the L.D. Bell High School football team hadn’t been there to help. Together, we hauled mud away from the homeowner’s back door, dug a trench, and built a retaining wall out of railroad ties. It was not my usual weekend afternoon. But it was one of my best.
That 6-year-old girl knew it, too. She overheard me telling my mother about it over the phone with a twinkle in my eye. She saw me sign up to do it all over again months later. And, over the course of the next six years, she begged to be a part of it. My daughter, Trinity, is 11 now. She’s volunteered with me at Operation Back 2 School for years, and she is eagerly counting down the days until she can join me in hauling mud, trimming hedges, and bagging dead leaves for strangers.
I have painted a lot of houses over the last few years, and the homeowner has always made a point to thank us for our help. You could tell that it wasn’t just about paint on a home to them. Trinity understands that. I think that’s why she can’t wait to paint with me: she wants to be a Catalyst of Hope, too.
That, to me, is the value of 6 Stones: I can build a legacy for my children. Really, we can build one together.
I’m nobody special. I haven’t done anything that anyone would call “world-changing.” I’m just a mom who loves Jesus and her kids, and wants to follow Him in a way that shapes them. When I read the Bible, I’m struck first and foremost by the generosity and grace of our God. Then, as I try to soak in all of His goodness, I can’t help but feel the urgency of His commandment to Love One Another.
Jesus was pretty direct on that point. We were told to love our neighbors, and He uses the word “neighbor” to cover a pretty wide group of people. That’s what I love about volunteering with 6 Stones: it puts me right next to my neighbors. We work together, we serve each other, and I get to show others the love of Jesus while we’re doing it. It’s addictive. I want to bring everyone I can along with me so that they can be a part of it. So that my enthusiasm can get other people excited to serve this community. Which is why it’s awesome that my kids get to volunteer with me. They get to see how important it is to serve people outside of our family. More than that, they get to feel it!
Trinity isn’t old enough to work on houses with me yet, but that hasn’t stopped her from tagging along when I volunteer. It has become our bi-annual tradition to serve on opposite sides of the CPR blitz. I get knee-deep in dirt and she stays at the 6 Stones office to help package food and supplies for the volunteers. At the end of each blitz, we hop in the car and drive past the house that I worked on so she can see the transformation. Now that we live in Euless, some of the houses we’ve worked on are right around the corner from ours. In fact, I suspect that our house benefitted from Euless Revitalization — CPR’s predecessor — long before we moved. It’s good for my daughter to see the lasting impact of the work that we do.
She is in of it awe every time.
If you’re a parent, you know how exciting it is to experience things with your kids for the first time. Their first words, steps, dances, car rides, etc. fill you with wonder all over again. But there is nothing like sharing in the goodness of volunteering with them. Being there when their hearts melt over the impact a few hours of service can have. These are the moments that shape our children. When my daughter lights up about volunteering, I see her future in that smile. It’s so bright I want to cry.
My mother, Camilla, always served our community. I tagged along for years before I understood that she was loving others with Christ’s love. She prayed often for Christ to use her as His hands and feet to bless anyone that was placed in her path each day. I inherited something awesome from my parents, and I hope and pray that my girls will carry on that legacy of loving others well.
I hope she passes it down to another daughter who passes it on to another and so on. Because these little things — the backpacks, the houses, the clothing donations — are huge. When we go out into the community with our kids and show them how to work on someone else's home, it makes a lasting impression. Trinity will be able to tell others about how she made a difference there. And the impact that we have on those homeowners’ hearts will last even longer than their homes. It will outlast us. That’s legacy.
I have a second daughter, Faith. She’s about to be four, but she’s been volunteering with 6 Stones since before she was born. At my husband’s request, she and I sat out of the 2013 CPR blitz. But she was there, in my belly, to help Trinity and I hand out backpacks that year. Nowadays, Faith sorts her clothes for donation every time she outgrows a size. She always talks about helping our neighbors because she is learning that neighbors are only strangers until you serve them. After that, they can become lifelong friends. When she gets older, she’ll be there to help us do a whole lot more. Because that’s our family. That’s our legacy.
Volunteering heals us. All of us, no matter which side of the equation we’re on. My mother understood that. The L.D. Bell Football coaches understood that. And as much as volunteering is about giving, not getting something out of our time, I believe that working with 6 Stones makes all of us better. It gives us the chance to build our own personal legacies. More importantly, it builds an environment of love in our community.
In that way, a whole bunch of Nobody Specials like me can leave behind a very special Legacy.