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Joel: A Sappy Review of Purpose

Submitted by bmattis on Thu, 04/02/2020 - 11:54

As a Housing volunteer and AmeriCorps member, my last day out on the jobsite was the final Wednesday in March, the 25th. That's about two weeks after March Madness was canceled and all the craziness with the coronavirus flared up.

Joel walking on a rooftop

I've mentioned before that repairing houses here in Appalachia is hard work. For this last house, student volunteers and I dug over forty holes around the perimeter for posts to support the brand-new roof. While replacing the old water heater, it sprayed my crew leader, Scott, up and down the chest with murky, rusty water. (You can read more about the project in this blog post.) Honestly, I think most everything in life is pretty tough. Taking classes, working a full-time job, doing yard work, raising kids—it's all hard work. But during the last two weeks of March, I felt my attitude shift.

As CAP programs began to modify services to comply with social distancing guidelines, our home repair programs finished up the most critical projects. So while most everyone else at CAP and in the United States was staying home, I still got to wake up every day to fix this house. While everyone was away from their jobs and classes and friends, I still got to pick up my hammer and serve. I was grateful! This way, while Scott drenched his shirt, we were both able to laugh it off and keep working. We got to do this.

While considering this attitude shift, I realized that I was grateful because I just...had something to do! My purpose, for the time being—repairing homes and keeping people safe, warm, and dry—was still intact.

As of Wednesday, March 25, the Housing Program and I have been staying home. We've stopped going out to work on jobsites in hopes of slowing the spread of the virus and protecting the people we serve. I'll be honest—on my side of things, I have to be very intentional to make sure that I keep my grateful attitude.

At first, I considered that my purpose—repairing homes for people—was defeated. That is definitely not happening right now. But instead of falling to despair, I zoomed out. Repairing homes is just a smaller piece in big plans I'm pretty sure God has for my life. Taking a step up, repairing homes is just one way that I got to show God's massive love to people. I think that's my purpose.

Right now, I'm transitioning into this new life, spending all day back at the house. With that, I'm trying to find ways that I can also transition this purpose of love. (Wow. That's super sappy. But I mean it!) I've been able to call old friends, and just share funny stories and tough challenges we've been through. I've gotten to learn new software on my computer, which I hope will enable me to communicate better in the future. I've also just had more time to spend listening to worship music and reading the bible. It enables me to grow closer with God, in turn allowing me to show his love better.

With all the changes recently, I'm glad that I've had time to get sentimental and really reconsider what I'm doing. I'm still a little bummed March Madness is called off. But otherwise, I'm glad that I can still wake up with a purpose.

Joel Engelhardt is a One-Year volunteer and AmeriCorps member serving in CAP's Housing program in Johnson County. If you want to learn more about volunteering with CAP, contact us at