Habitat build, service day successes despite rain

PLAINVIEW – Saturday’s rain showers might have put a damper on a few of the projects, but it didn’t dampen the serving attitudes of the students and staff who turned out for the third annual Degree of Difference Day at Wayland Baptist University.

A one-day service effort, DOD aims to provide opportunities for students and employees to give back to the community by doing various service projects as needed by nonprofit organizations, churches and other entities. Teams spent their Saturday morning painting, cleaning and organizing, and cheering on Special Olympics athletes. The Pioneer Marching Band spent their afternoon and evening hosting and running the Plainview Pioneer Marching Festival at Bulldog Stadium for area schools, an annual event they run as a service to band programs as they prepare for UIL competition.

The Habitat for Humanity home began on Wednesday was due for completion on Saturday with help from DOD teams, but when that project finished early Friday night, teams had to shuffle to other locations.

“It was a good problem to have, that we finished the house early rather than coming up short,” said Teresa Young, co-organizer of the DOD project with Teresa Moore, director of student leadership and involvement. “It made for some challenges with Saturday’s project, but in the end we still made an enormous impact, and that’s what mattered.”

While the rain cut short a few painting projects on Saturday and some cleanup work in the cemetery and other outdoor locations, some teams kept right on working. One group moved bricks and cleaned a storage shed on the Wayland campus after another DOD project fell through. Despite the rain coming down, the team bonded and decided to work to completion.

“We had a really great group that was fun and enthusiastic and willing to work regardless of the rain,” said Stephanie Wright, a sophomore on the project.

“We signed up to do the job, and we followed through,” added junior Khrystyne Eckerd. “We learned about finishing the job even through natural circumstances such as the pouring rain, and we learned about communicating with everyone in order to get the job done correctly and efficiently.”

Another team cut their painting efforts short when the rain began to fall harder, but they still accomplished something and felt good about their work.

“It made me feel good to help our town that gives so much to WBU,” said Melissa Knight.

“Our community really needs the help and by doing small things, we make a big impact on the community and show them we care,” added junior Rosemary Ribera.

Two local thrift stores benefitted from Wayland help on Saturday, including the Crisis Center of the Plains’ Broadway Treasures store and the Salvation Army Thrift Store. Teams covered the shops doing cleaning and organizing and sorting of donated goods, leaving both locations better than when they arrived. The projects had an impact on both students and adults.

“I enjoyed being in a group of Wayland students I don’t ordinarily spend time with and be able to serve alongside them,” said Mary Beth Arnold, a junior who worked at the Salvation Army store. “It was really neat to work together for the common purpose of helping other people, building Wayland’s reputation and, most importantly, glorifying God.”

April Morgan, a senior who worked at Broadway Treasures, said the experience left her with a new perspective.

“This was a very humbling experience; I definitely feel very fortunate and blessed,” she said. “Working with the body of Christ is fun and even though the work is not always clean, it’s great to see everyone serving unselfishly!”

“It is an awesome feeling helping others,” added Tricia Garza, certification officer in the School of Education and a team member at the Salvation Army. “It really makes a difference to see how fortunate we are to have what we have and to be able to help the less fortunate. God is so good to us, and sometimes we forget how God has impacted our lives. Coming to help today was hard work but worth it.”

One group served as cheerleaders for Special Olympics athletes as they practiced their bowling skills at the Plainview Bowling Center. A few even bowled alongside the athletes and encouraged them during the experience. The project also impacted students.

“This taught me to laugh and have joy,” said junior Heather Shiloh. “Even if you don’t do well you can still laugh and have a good time. I see such amazing life in these guys I bowled with. I loved it.”

The Habitat project was a first in many areas: it was the first home built in Plainview in a blitz-style format, and it was the first such project for Wayland to undertake. Student groups, employees and others from the community volunteered for shifts to complete the home, starting at 7 a.m. and ending around 10-11 p.m. each night. When Friday rolled around, the house was further along than organizers planned and the work was completed late Friday.

The house will be ready for volunteers again in two weeks once electrical wiring is done, inspections are completed and other technical aspects finished. Then crews can return to add sheetrock and fixtures, paint the exterior and complete all inside work.

“I am still amazed at how quickly the house went up and how fun it was to work on the site, though I used a few muscles I’m sure haven’t been worked in a while,” Young said. “I think this was a perfect project to unify the Wayland family and give back in a big way during our centennial celebration. It will literally be a centennial monument to service and dedication to our community.”

Wayland caps off the service initiative with a celebration chapel on Wednesday, Oct. 15, in Harral Auditorium at 11 a.m. Worship, a slide show and testimonies are planned for the event, which is open to the public.