When we’re out and about and we see that 100th flyer about that annual fish fry or garage sale or another fundraiser, it’s easy to ignore it. After all, you might have been to the same garage sale for the last five years and you’ve tired out from the unlimited walleye. However, most fundraisers and community events have a greater purpose than bringing people together for a good meal and a good time.
I recently attended the annual Nun Banquet hosted by the Sisters of the Order of St. Benedict in St. Joseph. While this banquet has been held for the last eight years, this was my first time attending the event that supports Central Minnesota Habitat for Humanity. The mission of Central Minnesota Habitat for Humanity is to gather communities to transform lives through affordable home-ownership. Specifically, the banquet supports the organization’s Women Build Program. The year 2012 marked the ninth year for the program that celebrates women working together to build community, according to the organization’s website.
Women Build provides women of all ages and abilities the chance to come together to build not just homes, but friendships and networks, personally and professionally, according to Central Minnesota Habitat for Humanity. Those women who participate directly support the building projects through gifts of cash and volunteering. When I think of those who build homes or anything that has to do with construction, the first person who comes to mind is not a woman. As a woman, if I had a choice to write a story or hammer a nail, my choice should seem obvious.
However, the Women Build program brings women of all ages together to build homes for those in need. Everyone can offer something to the project even if their background is not in construction. If working together to build a home with your own hands is not enough to make you want to put down the notebook and grab a hammer, I don’t know what is. Some of the Sisters of the Order of Benedict in St. Joseph have been volunteering for years and supporting this effort with the Nun Banquet. They are right there alongside other volunteers working to build homes for others. About six nuns volunteered by helping to paint last year.
While the nuns have a mission to serve and be connected to the community, it’s encouraging to them to know their work is enabling someone to have a better life. One nun told me one of the most wonderful aspects of the experience was working alongside the mother of the family who would live in the home once it is complete. While the mother had put in what the program calls “sweat equity,” she was so excited to be there, she continued to work on the project until it was done, the nun said.
I enjoyed hearing about the experiences of the nuns during the banquet. The more than 200 people who attended the banquet didn’t just come for the soup. Yes, most people come to visit with the nuns and to enjoy the variety of soups offered, but many come to help support the cause. It’s the cause we should consider the next time we walk by that 100th flyer announcing an upcoming fundraiser or community event.