I hope you'll indulge me a bit but I want to take a break from writing about software and software careers. Today I want to write about something much different. I want to talk about an opportunity I had to help other people. I'm not here to imply that others need to do this to grow up but I do feel this is something that is a result of me growing up a bit. My motto has always been “Growing older is mandatory; growing up is optional”. This was a bit of my optional growing up.
Last week I had the privilege of going to Cedar Rapids, Iowa with a group of people to help people rebuild their homes after last years disastrous floods. Where the Iowa river is about 100 yards wide in downtown Cedar Rapids, we were told that it was as much as 2 miles wide at the crest of the flood. Needless to say, the results were disastrous for many people. You need only to drive through the neighborhoods to see home after home that is vacant because the people cannot afford to rebuild. More than a year later you don't hear about it but the devastation is still there and help is really needed.
We did a lot of different things to help. We had people from 12 years old to 56 years old with a variety of skills. Actually, I should say we were largely an unskilled crew relative to the skills required to rebuild a house. However, we were willing to work and while a few of us know enough to be able to install a few windows, doors and trim, and others could paint, many of them just helped clean up from the flood so that homes would be ready to be rebuilt.
This is the 4th year I've been able to do this. The first 3 years I went to the Gulf Coast to help after Katrina. I don't go into this to receive kudos. I only bring this up to say that this is an opportunity that is available to many people because the recovery from these disasters takes years and just because it may be old news you need only to ask and you will find out there is more to do.
Can't go for a whole week? How about a weekend in your hometown? I know of a friend that took a group of people he works with and worked with Habitat for Humanity in our town and helped to build a home for a family that would not otherwise ever be able to have their own home. There is need for help of all kinds for people in your own town. You could get a group of buddies together and contact Habitat for Humanity or many other charitable service organizations to help others who need work done around their home but cannot afford nor are they able to do the work themselves.
I hope that many that read this will consider how they might be able to help their neighbors.