Meet The Folks Moving The Liberty Home Forward

Keith Howard | Sunday, May 24, 2015

Hecticity—a made-up word—describes life from the perspective of the Liberty Homes project. Hectic on all fronts, the final stages of initial construction draw to a close this week. In a day or two, we’ll have nailed down all the details of where the home is to be sited—and have talked personally with each of the site owners who were not chosen. Until then, though, I’d like to present a few thumbnail sketches of some of the folks who have done volunteer work over the past month or so. Some of the names have been changed for privacy, and this is far from a complete list.

Leading the list and leading the project is Dan, who’d prefer to use only his first name. With his experience in project management, construction and travel trailers, Dan has been the source of all knowledge and judgment throughout the project. I, who am amazed that a hole can be cut in a roof, a fan placed in the hole and the hole sealed without leakage, would be looking forward to living in an airless box without Dan’s guidance, hard work, patience, hard work, expertise and hard work. A future blog post will be devoted to him, but for now: Dan is responsible for this project moving forward.

Two early volunteers were Jack and Mike (names changed to protect privacy), two homeless men living in tents down by the river. They came to Liberty House needing food, and returned for two days helping out with insulation. Their volunteering stopped when other men attacked their camp. Jack was hospitalized and Mike was badly injured by hatchet blows to the head. Hatchet blows to the head. That’s pre-medieval.

Chaz, a homeless vet battling heroin addiction—if by “battling” we mean living with and hoping to find the gumption to quit, brought considerable construction expertise for three or four days. Chaz has been in and out of prison, but his boyish face and charm make him seem more like a rugby-playing kid brother than a junkie. I know how well quitting gumption hides, and I pray Chaz is able to find it and hold on for dear life.

Two former residents, Doug and Randy, have returned to volunteer, each of them bringing expertise and wise-guy comments. Liberty House is all about redemption—helping vets struggling with addiction, poverty and homelessness discover a path to self-sufficiency and hope. These two, along with dozens of others over the years, are shining examples of why the work we do matters.

When I first envisioned this project—and that vision has evolved over time and will continue to grow and change—I pictured the creation of a temporary community of men and women who come together for a common purpose outside themselves. That picture is being populated right now, and it makes me very happy indeed.

-Keith Howard

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