I have just returned from a great week working in Bay St. Louis, MS. I led a group of 20 high school students to work in the Gulf region as a way of spending their spring break getting to know and understand the incredible challenges still faced by the victims of Katrina, two and a half years after the storm.
The students worked hard and had a good time, but none of us were expert craftsmen when it comes to building a house. Nevertheless, we worked as hard as we could and did our best, and it was fun to see our effort produce results.
The reality of the situation is that even though we advanced the construction of the house somewhat, the homeowner gave us more than she could ever know. Not only did she insist on treating us to a craw fish boil, but she never stopped expressing her gratitude. And it was the experience of service that gave the students on the trip the greatest benefit.
Sometimes people are reluctant to help because they feel like they cannot do that much. My experience this week reminds me that it is the human interaction and the relationships that are the most significant outcomes when we work to help each other.
Relationships strengthen communities far more than any program ever could.