Here are some thoughts from Ryan Hong (who wrote a reflection on Habitat but did not serve on-site) and Kezia Danso (who participated in the service day):
In Catholic Social Teaching, most of the class went to build houses for Habitat for Humanity. The organization is a non-profit, ecumenical Christian housing ministry that invites individuals of all backgrounds, races, and religions to build homes together. Habitat for Humanity reminds me of NBA Cares or Build A House Foundation because both organizations work for the benefit of the community to help families find shelter. Habitat puts God’s love into action by having volunteers work to build houses in Chicago. The organization provides an opportunity for society to come together and help families that need shelter. Our country is a melting pot, filled with stereotypes and conflicts, but the organizations brings our diverse community together to help slowly solve a problem. I think everyone who volunteers is benefitting by understanding a new perspective on life and now appreciating their possessions. Habitat for Humanity built 90 homes around Chicago seeking to eliminate poverty housing and homelessness. Building houses provides families a safe place to live along with affordable housing. God created everyone out of love so, by volunteering to help the marginalized it will help society come together.
Habitat for Humanity invites anyone and everyone to volunteer. The organization offers an opportunity that a person will never forget. After a house has been built by partner families and volunteers, the home is sold to families that are in need but have the eagerness to invest their sweat into the organization's work. Habitat makes no profit off the homes sold, but the affordable mortgage payments are deposited into the Fund of Humanity, that helps pay for the construction of more homes. Society revolves around money and is meant for us to struggle. In recent years, the number of homeless individuals have increased along with unemployment rate in the United States. Individuals tend to leave out the homeless or poor because they have their own problems to deal with. There is an ongoing cycle of neglecting the homeless and poor because people think they use their money for drugs. We all have the option to try and work for our money. The homeless and poor do too, but with their living conditions and hygiene do not allow them to have an appearance to not get judged at an interview. An employer will always look for a good first impression like clothes, scent, handshake, and etc. I think there should be more places for the homeless to keep up with their hygiene. The past will keep repeating itself until multiple movements are formed to help solve an issue.
The Catholic Social Teaching theme Preferential Option for the Poor and Marginalized is relevant because every individual has the choice to help another. There are many volunteer opportunities to help the marginalized like Habitat for Humanity, soup kitchens, and etc. Preferential Option for the Poor calls us to consider the people who are poor or marginalized in the decisions we make individually, communally, and socially. Sometimes people get judged for helping others, which gives a negative persona that helping others is bad. In reality, we all should help one another no matter what shape, size, color, or religion they are. We are all made in God’s image and should embrace all of our flaws. We have one life to live and are blessed to have the opportunity to breathe. Now, I take advantage of every opportunity I have to help another person out.
In my opinion, we should all Care for God’s Creation because it will help create a more peaceful community. I personally love volunteering for the benefit of others. Working and seeing the end product is a reward and feeling that cannot be described. Christ calls us to persevere the world by being good stewards of it as God’s gift to humanity. I was always told you cannot judge a book by its cover. In a personal experience in 6th grade, I was made fun of for sitting next to a kid that was sitting alone at a lunch table. I ignored the other immature bullies and went along with my day. By caring for another's well-being you will never know how much it affects the individual being cared for. I love serving people and making others smile because it makes me happy. By putting God’s love into action it speaks the most truth because actions speak louder than words.
People will keep walking past marginalized individuals until society makes it know that it's okay to help each other. Society creates an image that everything is a competition. I think as individuals we may be too focused on money and the way to make it. Many families and people are not able to support themselves even if they have a job. By creating billboards and posters it will help expand the issue to the community. Everyone will go through a difficult time in their life but not everyone will have someone to help them go through it. By being an upstander in society we can help the marginalized by just giving attention to them. For example, it can mean giving the person sitting on the street money or just by having a conversation with them. I personally love having conversations with people I’ve never met before because I always learn something new. I challenge every individual to care for each others well-being even a stranger. A person can express God’s love everyday by complimenting someone or just by giving them a hug. Every individual is equal and deserves care.
Judging others is the often the first mistake we as humans make. Habitat for Humanity in general works to help those who want help and are willing to help themselves. They see past the appearance and what society sees as the “norm”. When we seclude others we are preventing many relationships from being built, many great things from occurring, and most importantly we are overlooking others which is incorrect. Judging others because of where they come from whether it be from a bad or poor neighborhood is never the case. The mentality to not help places like the south side and overlooking such places is really hurting us in the long the run. We are all one regardless of the nice home you may live in, your fancy cars, fancy jobs, or your fancy clothing at the end of the day we are all brothers and sisters in christ so if one of our brothers and sisters are in need of encouragement and uplifting then it is our duty to help in that process.
This situation reminds me of Luke 14: 13-14: “But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed.” In this verse the Lord calls us to include the poor, the crippled, the blind, etc. in everything that we do. Meaning we must include those who are deemed to be the outcasts as Jesus did with the people. We are all brothers and sisters in Christ, therefore, we must stop marginalizing one another and instead start uplifting each other. We are made in God’s image, therefore all of God’s creation is good and beautiful. We must not leave others behind but do everything in our power to uplift and be that supporting system for all people. Christ calls us to love each other, therefore we should not judge a person by their appearance but rather give them a chance. This situation also reminds me of the Catholic Social Teaching theme Rights and Responsibilities. Christ calls us to protect access to the things we need so as to live justly for others, society, and ourselves. In other words it is our duty to provide for the good of others, society, and ourselves. It is also our responsibility to ensure that we are doing everything in our power to improve our society while following in the footsteps of Christ. Though our lives may be great it is important to think of others from all different walks of life. Just because an individual does have the same clothes you have on your back does not mean they do not deserve a home either. Again it is our duty to make sure that think about how our actions whether it be judging will affect others.
My faith calls me to love everyone as Jesus loved us. My faith also calls me to be of service to others. Anything that I can do to help my community and ultimately make a huge difference is something I am striving towards. I have come to the realization that I do not need to do anything extravagant but making small changes to my life each day will create a big change. The goal that I have set for myself is to be of service to others. Where help is needed I want to present. I want the world to reach a place where we acknowledge each individual and look past our differences. To bridge the gap between social reality and what we hope for we must accept all people. Taking things day by day and loving everyone is the key way to see change. I want to take each day a day at time and work on being positive which will in return exude positive energy. I want to change how see the world, refrain from judging others, and devoting myself to others. Take small days a day will create a bigger impact and that is what I plan to do bridge the gap between social reality and what we hope for.