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Be The Change You Wish To See

By Sarah Troyer and Melissa Ricker

We’re so happy to introduce our friend, Tom. Tom is a very caring and generous person. From giving friends a ride to work to helping neighbors run errands, he is always finding ways to help others. It is important to Tom that he is someone who others can trust and go to in their time of need. When Tom is not helping friends or family, he’s giving back to his community. Tom enjoys ringing the bell for the Salvation Army and was honored to serve as a volunteer for the United Way Day of Caring. Tom embodies this quote by Winston Churchill: “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”

One of Tom’s biggest life accomplishments was buying his home, which he worked very hard to do. In 2015, he came very close to losing his home, through no fault of his own. Tom and his SSA worked together with his bank to save his home and salvage his finances. However, after the unexpected scenario, Tom had a hard time getting back on his feet. He found it hard to save money for repairs as they came up. Over the last several months, Tom has been very worried about the condition of his roof. He called his SSA nearly every time it rained. The two of them spent several weeks trying to find contractors who would be willing to work with Tom, but none of the options would work.

Tom’s SSA shared his roof concerns with the FANS Network Coordinator. The Coordinator made one phone call to a local church, to contact someone she thought could help. That phone call led to Pike Mennonite Church offering to finance the roof. After this, the project quickly came together. Two gentlemen from Pike Mennonite Church went out to meet Tom, measure his roof and get estimates for the supplies. Once Tom learned that his dream of putting a new roof on his home was coming true, his response was “Hallelujah! Praise the Lord!” He promptly picked a bright red roof, which he was grateful to get to do.

The team made several more phone calls to local businesses, and the response was amazing! 501 Metals provided a huge discount and free delivery for all the materials. Fidelity Building Supplies sold some materials at half-cost. Schnipke Contracting donated silicone caulking and roof boots. A local sheet metal worker pledged extra tools and his time to help volunteers. Biggby Coffee donated delicious hot coffee to keep volunteers warm. Pat’s Donuts and Kreme gave donuts to fuel the workers. Our own staff donated water and sandwiches for lunch, and church members donated cookies, chips, and vegetables. Forest Park United Methodist Church, which is in Tom’s neighborhood, offered their warm building for lunch and to use throughout the day. Several people wondered how the SSA and FANS were able to find so many people to help a total stranger. Dave at Fidelity summed this up perfectly when he said, “It is amazing what you can accomplish with one phone call.” We encountered so many generous people throughout this project!

Once the materials were ordered, the SSA and FANS began to build a group of volunteers for the project. The project was scheduled for November 19, and volunteers arrived to help despite the freezing temperatures, high winds and rain and snow showers. Since the roof was going to be metal and the wind posed a safety concern, the project was postponed. Once again, the volunteers were great; not only did they show up on November 19, they came back on December 3!

In total, there were 18 volunteers who gave more than 118 hours of their time. The collection of gifts and experiences was interesting to see – there were men and women, young and old. There were pastors, carpenters, welders, engineers, sheet metal workers, social workers, entrepreneurs, firemen, and retirees. The volunteers worked together to cut off the old roof, lay and nail fan folds, cut and lay metal pieces, and insert roof boots. They even helped rake the yard!

We all have gifts. Tom offers his gifts to his family, friends, neighbors and the community. He uses his time and talents to lend a hand whenever possible. Each volunteer who made this project possible had a gift to give, whether it was time, skills, tools, knowledge, or resources. Each gift was needed to complete this project and restore Tom’s home to a safe and dry place. It was great to watch a diverse group of people come together with such gifts, giving selflessly to someone like Tom, who is always helping others.

Often, we forget that our abilities are our gifts. Think about yourself – what are your gifts? Are you a good listener? Are you able to cook? Do you like to spend time with others? What skills do you have to help other people and how can you use them? Don’t let your gifts go to waste. In this holiday season and new year, find a way to help someone, find a way to make a difference, find a way to give back. In the words of Ghandi, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”

Your gifts can make difference in someone’s life.


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