Published: October 25th 2012October 25th 2012
When I first met Stephanie, she was wearing a baseball cap over her buzz cut hair. She had recently shaved her hair in sympathy for a friend who was undergoing chemotherapy. I soon learned that this was a typically bold move for Stephanie, whose outgoing style and ready smile belie some troubled times.
The Joplin tornado barely missed Stephanie’s apartment, but she still felt the effects. Soon after the storm, her landlord kicked her out of her apartment, presumably because he could rent it out for much more than she was paying, given the sudden shortage of housing in the area. Stephanie and her son, O’Thellis, have spent most of the time since then in a women’s shelter. O’Thellis’ bedroom is not much more than a coat closet.
Like all recipients of a Habitat for Humanity home, Stephanie contributes sweat equity towards her new space. She joined us on Friday at the warehouse, where we were measuring, cutting, and nailing frames together for assembly at the build site. As I mentioned in an earlier post
, the activity that day was dominated by the male volunteers on the team playing on the equipment, which included a large saw and two
air guns. Nailing boards required at least two people – one (or more, if the board was warped) to twist and hold the board, the other to operate the nail gun. Since we were building frames for her house, we appointed Stephanie “Boss” and in charge of making sure that her house was being built right. She held the boards in position while “Gunner,” aka Gib Ebson, nailed. The gun was loud and sent out a blast of air, so the job was a little scary. But Stephanie soon got the hang of it. When Gunner gave her a chance to shoot the gun, she jumped for joy. She fired a stream of nails into the 2x6 like she’d been doing it all her life. What an experience!
On Friday, Stephanie joined us to paint a house right next to her new lot. It’s not much to look at yet, just a ring of cinder blocks around a gravel floor, but it was hers. At lunch time, she grabbed a piece of pizza, walked over, and enjoyed her first meal at her new house.
Stephanie invited us all over for lunch at her new house when it’s finished next year. I plan to take her up on the offer next spring, when I hope to lead another Thrivent Builds trip to Joplin.