Featured Photo courtesy of the Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service. Check out their coverage of ACTS Housing and other fantastic neighborhood news HERE
Witnessing a family’s success reminds us why we do this work.
When visiting the Lee’s home, I couldn’t help but notice the beautifully stained, winding staircase and detailed, polished handrail when I first entered the house. It is an exceptionally crafted staircase, in an exceptionally beautiful front room. Newly stained floors, furniture neatly arranged and welcoming, an open floor plan leading into the kitchen. On this particular day—and I imagine many others— the fragrant kitchen aromas were incredible. ACTS realtor Blia was by the stove helping Phua, Phua’s daughter, and their friend Linda finish preparing a couple big pots of soup full of leafy green vegetables.
Reverend Lee had invited the ACTS team for lunch as a thank you for supporting him with the purchase and rehab of his home, and to show us all they had accomplished in reclaiming this once vacant, vandalized foreclosure. During lunch, Rev. Lee explained why the spindles on the staircase were mismatched, although not one of us had noticed. He said they had bargain-shopped for replacement spindles, and couldn’t find a matched set. They frequented thrift stores and discount furniture stores for most of their furniture. He pointed to a beautiful hutch cabinet in the kitchen and proudly explained that it had cost only a few hundred dollars. After some elbow grease and re-staining, it looked like it cost two thousand.
After eating more homemade egg rolls than I care to admit, I accompanied members of the ACTS team and the Lee family to the living room to see a before-during-and-after slide show that Rev. Lee had put together. He explained how he worked with members of his church, friends, and family to do the necessary demolition and repairs.
As I sunk into their comfortable couch, chuckling at pictures of teenagers with sledge hammers, I was reminded of the homes I grew up in. I come from a family of pastors, and I learned very early that a pastor’s home is practically a community center with an open door. If anyone has mastered hospitality, it’s a good pastor.
Rev Lee, Phua and their family exemplify true hospitality. They took on a project and invited the community to participate in it. They built a home for their children to rest and play in, for their friends and church members to congregate and pray in–a home with a kitchen big enough to feed a dozen ACTS team members that day, and surely countless other friends in days to come.
The Lees demonstrate that owning a home is bigger than completing a real estate transaction, bigger than countless rehab projects and pinching pennies – a home holds the potential to nourish families, bring people of all types around the table, and ultimately, heal communities. Helping families like the ever hospitable Lees is exactly why ACTS Housing exists, and that family shows us all what home ownership can do.