"No one has money. No one has time. That is generally how people respond, but if they dig a little deeper, people can find the money and they can find the time. And it does leave an impact." - Jennifer Scott
by Kathy Magnuson
"What is more fun? Just sitting around having cocktails for a night or is it doing something that has an impact that lasts? Let's go with it. That's how it took shape-a few of us saying yes. If it works, it works. And if it doesn't, at least we tried." That's Jennifer Scott's description of how the planning began for the 20th high school reunion of the 1991 class of Edina High School. Led by J. Forrest, Scott and four other classmates took on the challenge of recruiting volunteers and financial contributions from their class to make a difference. Instead of just a party, they made a Habitat for Humanity project the centerpiece of their reunion.
A more traditional social evening was offered for classmates who said that working on a Habitat project wasn't what they wanted to do for a reunion. But others responded "'absolutely. I'm on board.' They decided that the Habitat piece was going to be what they were coming into town for. That was their reunion. It was significant. It was exciting," Scott said.
"For me," Scott continued, "it feels like there is more depth to it. I don't mean to minimize cocktails and appetizers and fun conversation, but it just feels like we gave someone who didn't have a house a house. That just seems to have a little more meat to it than something that's just about us."
Enough people were on board that they raised nearly $50,000 and put in 100 volunteer days over five days in May and five days in June.
"Who wants to paint? Who wants to operate a saw? Who wants to hammer nails?" is not what you usually hear at a class reunion. Scott's volunteer day was spent painting in the upstairs of the house in 100-degree weather.
"It was showing up. It was saying 'I'm going to do this thing that is not part of my everyday pattern.' No one can do much by themselves but we can do significant things if we work together as a team. It was super fun!" Scott said.
Why did Scott think people said yes? "You can see classmates that you haven't seen for a long time and instead of just a five-minute conversation with them over an appetizer and a cocktail, you are standing side-by-side with them for hours painting. You get to the next level of conversation. I had conversations with people that I am not totally sure I talked to in high school. I thought, 'I missed out in high school. These are cool people.' And having a full day to connect with them and have lunch with them-that made it relationally worthwhile."