We were scanning and clearing out old files when we came across the 2014 file for “Operation: Building Hope.” In the spring of that year, an incredible grass roots of high school students from across the Fox Valley raised over $108,000 in less than 6 weeks to build a Habitat home as a graduation gift to the Fox Valley. The students were phenomenal as fundraisers, volunteers and spokespeople for Habitat. They were an inspiration to many businesses and individuals who support us to this day.
A handwritten list of the student e-mail addresses was in the file. As a final thank you, we sent an update on the family to the students. Most of the e-mails bounced back or disappeared into cyberspace, but a couple did reply.
Ryan Thomas at Marquette told us “Keep up the excellent work – it truly is inspiring.”
“I am humbled that we had the opportunity to work so closely to do such vital work. This project was truly far-reaching in its impact — beyond reaching individuals, it touched a community. I can only ever hope to replicate this as I progress in life, as the ability to deeply impact the people around me is all I can ever aspire for.
Thank you, and everyone at Habitat, for the incredible role you’ve played in changing my life. I have passed this note along to the ~70 members of our Facebook group from back in 2014, imploring them to pass this message forward to their school and community leaders in order to show the lasting impact that organized student involvement has. We would be remiss if we thought our work ended in August of 2014 — the impact of this project must live on to inspire others. It sounds like it already has done just that.
I will leave with a simple but powerful quote that I think adequately summarizes what we felt in those early months of 2014.
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has — Margaret Mead”