The town of Stroud is generally frowned upon by Oklahomans. Before our service trip, I talked to a few friends from Oklahoma.
“Oh, you’re going to Stroud?” they would say. “I’m sorry.”
I didn’t understand why people seemed to dislike my service site so much, but I figured that maybe it had something to do with the fact that we were going there to do service in the first place. When we first got to Stroud, I started to wonder if the Stroud-haters had been right in their opinion. The town is tiny with only 2,500 people and a high poverty rate. Driving down the main street in our Creighton van, we couldn’t help but notice the similarity between the empty street and deserted towns in horror movies where something terrifying always happens. It didn’t seem like Stroud had much to offer at first glance.
But that impression didn’t last long.
Our service group soon learned that in the small town of Stroud, we were celebrities. Everybody knew about the fall break service group that had been coming for years to help with Habitat, and everybody wanted to meet us.
We had different churches and families cooking us elaborate meals day after day, kindhearted individuals inviting us over to their houses for evening games, and seemingly random people baking cookies for our nearly constant consumption.
On Thursday night, we went to Stroud High School’s pink-out football game with our faces painted in support of the Tigers. We cheered so loudly that the school’s mascot came to talk to us and beg us to come to more games. Our group was recognized during halftime and thanked profusely for our willingness to spend our fall break in service. It was an amazing night and made us feel more a part of the community than we could have imagined.
During the whole trip, the people of Stroud treated us like family and taught us what it meant to accept and take care of a group of strangers. They did not know us, but they were so genuinely grateful for our small act of helping them build one little house that they were willing to do absolutely anything to make us feel welcome. I think every person on the Stroud service trip came back with a new meaning of community, thanks to that little town. I am still baffled by some people’s poor opinion of our service site, but it does not bother me so much anymore.
I know, and the eleven others on my trip know, that Stroud has something special, and we will always have a special place for Stroud in our hearts.
Major: English, Pre-Med
Host Site: Habitat for Humanity, Stroud, OK
The CCSJ blogs are meant to be a place for Creighton students, faculty, staff, alumni/ae, and friends to reflect on their experiences with programs sponsored by the office or related to its mission. The views expressed in these reflections, and all other blogs found on or linked to from this website, are those of the individual authors and are not necessarily those of Creighton University, the Creighton Center for Service and Justice (CCSJ), or any of the University’s affiliates. The University and the CCSJ are not responsible for the actions, content, accuracy, or opinions expressed in these blogs.