Coming Together To Make A Difference

Tuesday night I had a bad attitude. It had been a long, stressful day, and by the time I was putting myself in bed, I had given myself a stomachache worrying about everything from my teaching jobs and all the work I had, to Eddie’s eating habits, to Cort’s current job situation. It was ridiculous what I was letting myself get worked up about!

In fact, as I was falling asleep, I was wishing I could just teach in my classroom onWednesday instead of strapping on my grubby clothes and doing manual labor all day. I had a very bad attitude.

I was even dragging Wednesday morning. I didn’t roll in to school until 7:20, and as we got on the bus just after 7:30, I was silently praying that all we would do is paint–nothing too strenuous.

As soon as I got my group together, I felt ashamed of my bad attitude. I had eight students–all kids who were in one of my two honors classes–and they were PUMPED to be in my group! And I had been talking it up all week about how great it was going to be! I knew I had to turn it around–and fast!

So I shoved my bad attitude to the back of my brain and by the time we arrived on Corinne Street, I was SO excited to find out what our jobs were going to be!

When my team got off the bus, our site leader, Tom, introduced himself and told our group all about Habitat for Humanity: the mission, what is going on in Kent County specifically, and then about the house we would be working on. After a brief prayer, we headed outside into the crisp morning to find out what our tasks would be.
Part of our team was on foundation duty. We were to rake/dig down so an even three layers of brick on the foundation was showing around the house. Then we needed to clean it with wire brushes so we could paint it white to match the trim of the house.
I had seven girls and one guy in my group. I didn’t know how the girls would be about getting into the work, but they were great! They grabbed those tools and got to work!
No one was afraid to get dirty! I was so proud! The best thing I heard over and over all day was, “I’m done! What else can I do?!?” It was beautiful!
In the front of the house, there was a brand new porch. In front of the brand new porch, there was a HUGE pile of dirt blocking the foundation stones. We had to get to the stones, so we had to dig out the pile.
That is my foot on the shovel…and yes, those are stones that I have to dig out. And yes, my back and shoulders were SOOO sore Wednesday evening.
The pile on the left is the result of digging out the front of the porch. that is a LOT of digging!
While we dug and dug out front, painting was going on in the back! We even had to get under the deck, so we had some brave souls who crawled under there with the bugs!
The girls were pretty proud of their work on the house. And I turn around for one minute and they were showing their Sluiter Nation pride too!

I was so proud of my team!
This is the wheelbarrow I personally didn’t use. (that is for you, Phil)

The other half of my team was working on the backyard. They had demolished a garage and taken out a big tree to open up the yard for the kids. We needed to chop up the tree remains so we could haul it out.

Our lone guy handled the power tool and chopped up this big log. There was a rusty chain link fence that had become entwined with the tree that had to be snipped out and disposed of separately. He only took one stick to the eye in the process! Yikes! He was a trooper and kept working though. (The verdict is still out on how his eye is doing. It was sort of puffy yet today.)

These lovely ladies handled the smaller branches and logs. The even had saws!

they may be short and cute, but they can definitely do some heavy lifting! And with smiles all day long!
As the afternoon wore on, we all found ways to help clean up. The foundation where the garage was demolished needed a good cleaning…so we cleaned it!
We made this work look easy for sure! But we were all tired and sore on the bus ride back!
My group was so good! We chatted and laughed and did a ton of work! They laughed at my hatred of port-o-johns (yes, we had to use one on site…and the girls DID hit it with sticks while I was in it!), and we smelled the yummy scent of chicken grilling in the neighborhood.
Look at all those smiles! If it’s possible, they were even filled with more joy at the end of the day than when they started! Everyone felt so great about helping (we even got to meet one of the homeowners since she was there that day working too)!

As we got back to school, I couldn’t believe how lucky I felt to do something like that. Today, a group of 12th graders went back and finished up some of the work on “our” house that we started. Maybe we will all get to go to the dedication of the home together.

Even if we don’t, we all have a shared feeling of helping and working together on a beautiful day!

I can definitely say I have had a MUCH brighter attitude since waving goodbye to Corinne Street and our site supervisor, Tom.

**A special thanks to all of you who donated to Habitat for Humanity! Together we raised more money than any single volunteer has collected for Park’s NHS Habitat trip. That is what we do in Sluiter Nation…we give! And you are all now a part of that! Thank you!!!

About Katie

Just a small town girl...wait no. That is a Journey song. Katie Sluiter is a small town girl, but she is far from living in a lonely world. She is a middle school English teacher, writer, mother, and wife. Life has thrown her a fair share of challenges, but her belief is that writing through them makes her stronger.


  1. designHER Momma says

    I remember doing this when we were in high school. I think I was on paint duty. We have a few Habitat houses in our neighborhood, it's pretty cool…