The other day I opened up my work e-mail and noticed a forwarded message. After I looked through it, I realized why it had been sent out. It was a message that had originally been sent to Chad, the Rockford Home Depot manager, from Anthony Birdwell. In the message, Anthony expressed, personally, his gratitude toward Chad and everyone involved with From House to Home. He talked about how they have been “touched…in so many ways” and expressed his desire to have a “life-long” friendship because of the impact that Chad, the Home Depot, and the community’s generosity has had on their family.

When I read this I also was touched, but not really surprised. I don’t expect anything different from the Birdwells. They have received so much in life (the good and the bad) with dignity, and grace. I think though, what impacted me the most was hearing Anthony’s desire to remain “life-long friends” with Chad and even to “adopt” him into “their family”. It really communicates a lot about this project, its impact, its personal level, there’s so much here where do I begin?! I can’t fit it all in but I’ll pick a couple…

  1. Friends are not found every day. Neither are trustworthy ones, let alone friends you would desire to be included as part of your family! Take that in for a moment. This project and (more importantly) the people involved with it have earned the trust of the Birdwells. To see a group of strangers come to desire to retain a friendship can only communicate that trust has been built. And even more…

     A home. Obviously the Birdwells are receiving a material home, yes, but there’s more. When we think of home we think of family right? Now I have to say that I also found Chad’s response moving, but once again I did not expect any different from someone so driven to help others. Chad expressed his gratitude for what Anthony has sacrificed for our country, what an “honor” it has been to help him and his family, and he told Anthony that “I already feel as if you are a part of my family”. Charles Dickens said “Family not only need to consist of merely those whom we share blood, but also for those whom we’d give blood”. It’s clear to see that Anthony and so many others like him are willing to give their blood for our country and the people in it, most of whom are strangers to them. Chad was once one of those strangers, but no longer. I suppose you could say there was meant to be a friendship in the making, long before they knew each other. The Birdwells will not only have a physical home, they now have a community, maybe I can go so far as to say a community that has now become like a large family?

Trust. A home. In our restless, uncertain world being able to document this situation becomes something of a treasure. This is why we do what we do. If we didn’t show you or tell you about stories like this that showcase a safe place for trust and friendship to grow, you might stop believing in their possibility. A home built on trust can be rare, but it is possible. People like the Birdwells, Chad, and all involved with From House to Home prove that.

Abby Bakke, Producer’s Assistant

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