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ASP 2012 Reflection - Mary Kate Maher

July 17, 2012

Growing up in Covenant and being at multiple ASP services, fundraisers and events to support the team as well as my older brother, ASP was always fascinating to me. I didn’t understand why teenagers would take time out of their summer to help fix houses, especially when they knew nothing about construction. But I always knew that I wanted to be a part of it. I saw a special bond between the ASP members, and nobody seemed to question it. It was an ASP thing. An inside joke, and I’m finally on the inside.

I did my best to go in with an open mind and soon learned that a common theme of the week would become “expect the unexpected.”

To start, I was not expecting to see such a high level of need just hours from where I lived in my cozy house in Springfield. Pulling up to Nettie’s house, 40 minutes from the school where we stayed, I was already humbled. I braced myself to meet a bitter woman who resents people better off than her. But that is not what I got at all. Her trailer was covered in flower pots and she was sitting in her porch swing surrounded by family members. Within seconds I knew that I had misjudged her. She was not bitter at all. Instead she was as happy as could be that we were there to help.

Nettie was a 77-year-old woman who lived alone. But it didn’t seem that way. She never seemed to be alone. I truly believe this is the closest family I have ever seen. Nettie was a proud mother and grandmother, and she loved to talk and brag about everyone.

During one talk with Nettie, I learned that her daughter Sam was the one who discovered her mom during her first stroke. Looking into Nettie’s eyes, I saw how much love she has for her daughter. But this love isn’t just for Sam. It’s for every family member she has, including her son who passed away just a year ago. She opened up sharing how much she misses him and wishes he was still here, but knowing he was up in heaven where he belonged.

She talked to us about her faith and belief in God. She mentioned her sign on her porch that read “prayer changes things”. She said a neighbor had once asked her if she truly believed this. She responded, “Of course I do.” She proceeded to tell us multiple stories of how God had saved her. I was mesmerized and will never forget the passion in her voice when she talked. I wasn’t expecting for her to have such an impact on my faith, but there was no way she couldn’t. Her faith that God had a plan, even in her situation, is something I will always admire.

I know I haven’t talked much about what we actually did to her house, because compared to these memories the construction was minuscule. Our job was to remove and replace her living room floor. From the moment you walked in, there was a danger of falling right through the floor. The carpet was the only thing holding you up. I later proved this to be true when I fell straight through and hit the ground. After five long days of work, we removed two layers of carpet, a layer of laminate and the wooden subfloor. We replaced it with new subfloor and new laminate flooring. Dave taught us all how to help, even the two 15-year-old girls he had on his team. By the end, we could use a drill.

Now, Nettie never moved from her seat on the porch swing. I only saw her get up twice because she said it hurt her to walk. The first time was to show her all of her fresh insulation. Her eyes lit up when she said, “I’m going to be warm this winter.” The second time was to show her the finished project. We had her walking on her new floor with Coco sliding around right behind her. She was ecstatic and couldn’t stop thanking us even though we should have been the ones thanking her. She allowed us to have a great experience and to feel the most accomplished I have felt in my entire life.

Anyway, without the entire team, this trip would not have been half as rewarding or fun. I have built a special relationship with each one of you, and I finally feel a part of the ASP crew. I always knew I was missing out on something.

~ Mary Kate Maher

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