Saturday, March 1, 2008

Hands On Housing

Smaller mission parishes have something in common, and that something is often a feeling of not being big enough, not having enough resources to make a difference in ministry to a community. St Brendan’s Anglican Church in Austin, Texas has found a way to overcome that sense (or excuse) of being too small to make a difference.

In most major towns there are cooperative ministries, often made up of many small faith communities such as our own. Getting involved in these groups via acquaintances with other clergy has led us to a significant involvement in our local community: ministering to the less fortunate through a program called Hands On Housing. Hands on Housing is dedicated to providing essential volunteer-based home repair services to the marginaliz
ed in our society - the elderly, the poor, the disadvantaged, the disabled. This ministry, overseen by Austin Area Inter-religious Ministries, is the largest volunteer home repair effort in Austin. We repair and revitalize homes for homeowners that cannot afford to do needed repairs and thus enable them to remain in their own homes.

There are two main repair events per year repairing 25-35 homes, engaging upward of 1,000 volunteers. Other smaller projects are ongoing throughout the year. The upcoming work project begins April 26.

The typical client served is over 70 years old living on less than $10,000 per year in a home he/she owns and loves but cannot maintain. The clients are often approached to sell their homes but they do not want to leave the home they love and have lived in for often well over 20 years. Our repair efforts enable them to remain in their homes in safety and dignity.

While making such repairs, we help build relationships across social and geographic boundaries. Working with others, we help our neighbors in need.

It is wonderfully satisfying to be united with other faith communities to foster respect, partnership and transformation in service of the common good. We, the small, are called to be, and can be instruments of His transforming love.

John 15:12 - My command is this:
Love each other as I have loved you.

The Rev. Jeff Johnston
Saint Brendan Anglican Church (Austin, TX)

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