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“We’re gonna do this on the go, if that’s okay,” said Hal Heath, owner of Heath & Co. Realtors in Grand Junction. He said this to me as soon as I arrived at The House, where we were to conduct our interview, and where Heath was volunteering for some renovation work at The House.
“We’ll get this done in like five or ten minutes,” added Heath, referring to our interview, as he gathered materials out of the back of his car and proceeded toward the work site, while I scrambled to keep up, fumbling with my recorder.
“I used to work at the homeless shelter on North Avenue,” said Heath, clearly eager to get to work. “I noticed there that it seemed like some people were kinda stuck in the system. I wanted to help kids so that they didn’t get stuck. So when I heard about a shelter for teens, I said, ‘Okay, I’m in. Where can I help.’”
On this day, Heath, a Guardian of The House, was cutting out dry wall in a couple rooms for some needed renovation.
“This here is Bart Spor and Chuck Parish from Kleen Kut Service,” said Heath, motioning to two more volunteers caked in dirt as they worked to cut through concrete in the wall of The House. I shook hands with Spor, but Parish hesitated.
“I’m a little muddy,” said Parish with a wry smile, his hair blonde from concrete dust, and continued with his work.
“This is the beauty of the way The House is set up,” said Heath, indicating Spor and Parish. “Places like hospitals cost millions of dollars and there’s not much the average person like you or me can do to contribute. But with The House, volunteering like these guys do is priceless. Giving a hundred bucks is priceless. The average person can make a difference here.”
As Heath went inside to clean the floors where he would be cutting dry wall, he emphasized what exactly that difference was, the very thing that motivated him to become a Guardian.
“My daughter is a teacher at Fruita High School,” he said, “and one day she called me and said, ‘I got a kid in class, and she and her sister and her mom are living in a car.’ So I became aware of this population of people who really need help. And I wanted to help kids, cause if you can help cialis generique kids get squared away then it helps their self-esteem and their life, but it also helps them get on a path for life so that they can help other people. Instead of the system helping them, they can help other people in the future.”
A population of homeless teenagers
also hits close to home for Heath.
“I got kids of my own. Chuck’s got kids of his own,” said Heath. “So we understand that we need to give these kids reassurance that they are loved somewhere and that somebody cares. That people want to help them.”
By this time, Heath is on his hands and knees, wiping up mud leaking onto the floor from the concrete cutting taking place outside.
“If they can come in here,” he continued, wiping his muddied hands, “and leave a few days later feeling better about themselves, having communication with their family, a comfort that somebody loves them and that God is on their side, then they can get on with their lives. It will give them a feeling of self-worth so that they can find a path toward their next chapter of life.”
Heath pauses, hands on his hips, then quickly gets up and checks the other room. Outside, Spor and Parish begin sawing through more concrete, filling the room with the high-pitched roar of their saw. None of these people were getting paid for their work, and the mud dried onto their face seemed to symbolize the muddied, messy situations so many of these kids seem to be coming from as well as the work that would be necessary to see a place like The House take off.
“This is being done on a grassroots level,” said Heath, coming back into the room with a tape measure. “Its very efficient. So people can be a Guardian, yes, but they can also volunteer like us or come over and help these kids once this gets going.”
Heath takes a quick measurement, then looks at me with convicted eyes.
“This is the right goal, to help these teenagers,” he said. “It just feels like the right thing to do.”
Please visit www.thehousegj.org to learn more about The House, how to become a Guardian, and other volunteering opportunities.
Story provided by Robert Lamme and Associates.