Habitat ReStore Assistant Manager, Benni Westgor, had the pleasure of attending Habitat’s Global Conference last week. While she filled up on contacts, knowledge and ideas, it wasn’t until the conference ended that she experienced her highlight of the week. Hear it in her words:
“This past week, I spent three full days in Atlanta for the Habitat for Humanity Global Conference. Somewhere around 2,500 Habitat staff, board members and volunteers basically took over the Hyatt Regency downtown. It was three days of non-stop sessions, networking and socializing with like minded people from all over the globe that want a world where everyone has a place to live. As if that isn’t inspiring enough, I got the most valuable memory after the last session of the last day.
After the third and final day, myself and six co-workers had a 10:30pm flight home so we walked down the street for dinner to Max Lagers’ Brewery before heading to the airport. The place must always be full because it was jammed packed and we waited a good while. After about 30 minutes, I saw a man walk in by himself looking for a table for one. The hostess told him it would be somewhere around 35-40 minutes, or he could dine at the bar, which was full. He looked at the bar and seemed to hesitate. I approached him and told him that though two in my party were sitting at the bar, we were bound to be seated soon and he could sit in one of our spots. He agreed stood near us to wait. I struck up a conversation and he said he was in town for a large volleyball tournament and he had traveled from Rhode Island to watch his granddaughter. He then asked about me and I told him about Habitat, the global conference, and volunteering. We looked up his Habitat affiliate in Rhode Island and he seemed genuinely interested in volunteering. After about 10 minutes, I noticed one of my co-workers was finished with his beer and asked if he’d stand while we waited so the man could sit and order his dinner. My co-worker obliged. I said goodbye to the man.
Our group was finally seated and just about mid way though our meal, the man from Rhode Island approached me at our table. He looked me in the eyes while handing me a small white envelope and said, ‘thanks for being an inspiration.” Shocked, I smiled and said thank you and as he walked away, I opened the envelope. It was a gift card for the restaurant.
The bill came, and our executive director began to pay, so I handed him the gift card to use. When he got the receipt back to sign, his eyes got wide. He told us the gift card was for $100. None of us could believe it. One ten minute conversation with a stranger had as much impact as three days of sessions from the conference. I’m feel even more inspired by his generous actions and that is most valuable memory I took home from the conference. Sadly, I didn’t even catch his name. But now, he is forever in my daily devotions.”
Benni Westgor is an active volunteer and community member in Neenah, WI. She is a Neenah Rotarian and volunteers regularly with Neenah’s Boys and Girls Brigade.