Why am I spending summer 2013 in Memphis, Tenn.? Good question. I’m certainly not going for the humidity, and I’m not even going for the barbecue or music. No, I’m switching southern states from Arkansas to Tennessee for a neighborhood called Binghampton. This neighborhood, nestled to the north of Poplar Avenue, has become one of the poorest in the city. Thanks to a few empowered people, it’s becoming one of the most revitalized. So, I’m taking this break from reporting at the Columbia Missourian to spend my summer with Service Over Self, a Christian non-profit that has been pouring into the Binghampton community since 1986. I will work with 44 other college students to repair more than 20 homes in total. We will work with about 1,500 junior high and high school students throughout the summer to rebuild houses and restore the hope in our homeowners’ hearts. Tune in here to follow me on this journey of faith.
The night before I drive the five hours across the Arkansas/Tennessee line to Memphis, I remember the feeling I had when I last worked with SOS on a house in Binghampton — the feeling of being a part of something much bigger than myself.
With almost a full week of staff training under my belt, I learn more about the history of Binghampton and the nearly 100 families who have moved into the neighborhood, seeking its revitalization.
Week one of camp wraps up at SOS just as quickly as week two begins. From campers to fellow SOS staff, I saw genuine service embodied throughout the week, restoring my faith that true service is alive and well in my generation.
As I clear out the attic of this house on Eva Street, I realize how much Mr. Ross and his home are teaching me. By working to improve its physical structure, it’s quietly telling stories of how to renew my heart.
My own misconceptions and pride are broken down the more and more I spend time on my roof on Eva Street.
As the summer begins to wind down, I reflect on the lessons in leadership I’ve been taught.
Though SOS, like all great things, had to come to a close, the people in Binghampton who changed my heart will always be with me.