I think that everyone in the Stroud, Oklahoma group can agree that the week we spent in there was both rewarding and inspiring. It was definitely an experience we will never forget. The Oklahoma City Bombing Memorial, which was only 1 hour away from our site, emphasized the times before and after the bombing in 1995. Stroud, for us, signified something similar.
The 9:01 side of the memorial represents the city’s innocence before the bombing.
Before we arrived in Stroud, we were innocent in the sense that we had not been affected by the community or Habitat’s mission yet. Some, if not most of us, had been unaware of why people needed Habitat for Humanity or what may have caused a person to require its services. Apart from Habitat, many of us, myself included, had never heard of the Oklahoma City Bombing.
The center of the memorial represents the time 9:02, when the bomb went off on that April morning.
This was the moment that everything changed. During the week, this moment was when Marilyn, the Habitat for Humanity President for Stroud, sat us down and spoke about previous Habitat families. She said that most of them still live in their homes, which are sometimes well-kept and sometimes run-down. Only one owner couldn’t keep up with payments and lost her home. Beyond talking about the recipient families, Marilyn told us about all of the volunteers and people in the community who were involved in habitat. One man, who died last spring, still came to the site and tried to help from his wheelchair. Other members of the community were so happy that we were there to help offered up their homes for meals or to look at their exotic animals. Everybody wanted to show us their gratitude. This made it clear to me that these people in this small community cared tremendously for families in need. And in that instant I felt like maybe we were making a difference in this town.
9:03 represents the hope that came from the horror of the bombing.
Working with the volunteers in Stroud who have dedicated significant amounts of time to building homes taught me how even a little sacrifice goes a long way. These people, who have jobs and families, have built 13 houses in Stroud. It’s a slow process, but they have never given up. They recognize how important having a home is to a family, and they have made it their mission to provide each person in need with one. I’m sure that each person from Creighton or any other school has been inspired by this, and we each leave filled with hope that maybe someday, we each can make differences in other people’s lives.
Marilyn used the phrase “Stroud Proud” to describe how the community feels towards each other. This definitely resonated with each of us. And, after a week in Stroud, we, too, are Stroud Proud.
Major: Medical Anthropology
Host site: Stroud, OK
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