by Lisa and Megan Wilson

Nowadays in Nashville it is not uncommon to see houses being constructed every which way you can look. However, in Nashville affordability can be a real issue. Through the work of Habitat, thousands of low-income families have found new hope in the form of affordable housing. Churches, community groups and others have joined together to successfully tackle a significant social problem―decent housing for all.

On a crisp Saturday morning, my mother and I, along with 30 or so volunteers from several local congregations, were privileged to be part of the ‘Unity Build’ held annually by Habitat for Humanity. The point of this themed build is to bring together people of all faiths to achieve a common goal: build a brand-new house for Habitat’s program participants.

We all arrived bright and early at 7 a.m. to a freshly poured concrete slab for our future family’s home. My mother and I have both participated in several Habitat builds, but never had we been a part of a build that started at the very beginning. The experience of taking a concrete slab and transforming it into a nearly complete structure deepened both our perspectives of these volunteer opportunities, as well as give us some idea of what a good old-fashioned barn-raising must have been like.

As a matter of fact, our group would have finished building the entire wooden structure of the home, but our “SOS’s” (Supervisors on Site) had us stop early to leave something for the next group to do the following day! Barn-raisers, indeed.

Another thing that both my mother and I admired was how well everyone in our group worked together, despite our congregational differences. No one stood around waiting to help; if there was something to be done, people were quick to volunteer or simply start helping! We also found it refreshing to work alongside our fellow church members in addition to worshipping next to them—and in essence, this was an opportunity to worship our Creator by using the gifts he had already given us (some more than others).

In the course of the day I learned how to caulk exterior walls, helped attach protective siding and soundproofing to the outside of those walls, and I finally drank the recommended amount of water for a person: 64 ounces! It was a truly tremendous and uplifting day despite the heat.

If ever myself or my mother are presented with the opportunity to assist with a Habitat build, we will not hesitate to don those ever-so-stylish hard hats, safety glasses, and gloves! If you have never participated in a build, we would heartily encourage you to do so at your earliest convenience; your tool/building experience is no matter and, if anything, you will learn something you didn’t already know. And get in a little exercise too!


Today, Habitat has helped build or repair more than 600,000 houses and served more than 3 million people around the world. You can visit Habitat for Humanity International at www.habitat.org.