For this week’s Spring Break, five Clinton School students have traveled to Houston to participate in rebuilding efforts with SBP for Hurricane Harvey. Throughout the week, the students will be posting reflections on their work. Today’s post is from Kirby Richardson, a first-year student from Rogers, Ark.
The greatest act of love that one can perform is to make oneself available to meet the needs of another and thereby elevate the needs of others to equal status with one’s own. That is why I came to Houston. The city carries a great deal of significance for me, as Southeast Texas was my second home while I was growing up, and a great deal of my family still lives here (albeit, 45 minutes from Houston in the Beaumont area). Twenty miles from where I currently am, on the side of Eastbound I-10, there is a small pond on which my grandfather used to fish.
After Hurricane Harvey, pictures surfaced of the entire area, including the pond, underwater. It was devastating to see a place that embodied happy memories transformed into an example of destruction. My family in the area, all things considered, escaped relatively unscathed. Other families, however, we’re not so lucky – as is the case with the family whose home we will be helping to renovate.
The primary thought that I had today, our first day of work, was how I fit here, in this space. Who am I in relation to the father and daughter who live in the house we are renovating? Am I positioned to fulfill this family’s needs?
The short answer to the first question is that I am someone who has an interest in service. I am not a servant, as it implies that service is simply a means to justify a specific identity. I am a person who wants to serve, to dedicate myself continuously and emphatically to the ethical and sustainable fulfillment of needs. With regards to the second question, I am not sure if I can fulfill their needs, but I can certainly try my best to understand them and contribute to their fulfillment to the best of my ability. Acknowledging their needs and elevating them to equal or greater status as my own needs is my goal, and in that sense. I love the family that we are trying to serve and I want the very best for them.