Building Something Bigger
By Sumner McCallie
An amazing thing happened this past year on McCallie’s Habitat house build site. On the first Saturday in December, about twenty McCallie guys gathered at 8:45 a.m. in a neighborhood about five minutes from campus to construct the floor system for a new house. The woman whose house this would become stood with her 16-year-old son, hammers in hand, ready to go; she had worked hard for a long time for this dream to come true.
That first day as they hammered in the floor trusses, the talk between her son and the McCallie guys was about football. He had played that fall for a nearby high school and had met with good success. Coaches had noticed his big frame as the season unfolded; his playing time had increased. He was excited about his prospects for coming years. Visions of big-time athletics quickly outpaced what reality probably had in store. Football was going to be “his ticket to college.”
As the house rose through its stages of erected walls, a set roof, and hung dry wall and siding, the conversations between the son and the McCallie boys grew as well. Soon he was asking not about football, but about academics. He sought out ideas on colleges that did not just have big football programs, but which focused on areas of history that he naturally enjoyed. He asked questions about Hope Scholarships and GPA requirements. He learned about where his fellow builders were applying.
When the house was dedicated in early March, the proud new homeowner related that her son’s grades had risen, and there was talk within her family about how to best create opportunity for academic scholarships. The exposure on site had opened more than just a physical door in her son’s life.
This is the power of Habitat for Humanity: people come together to build a structure, but lives are changed in many more unforeseen ways.
Sumner McCallie serves as the faculty advisor for McCallie’s chapter of Habitat for Humanity. He served as Dean of Boarding Life for over a decade before taking a new role in the Summer of 2013 as the Academic Dean.