Many hands make light work. This may be an overused phrase, but when a community comes together to help out one of its own, it's an amazing thing to behold.
Saturday morning marked the start of work at the home of Miguel and Guadalupe Calzada. The goal was simple – get all of the stuff out of the house. Once this is done, tradespeople will perform inspections, develop plans, and estimate costs for materials. What's the rush? The Calzada's home is on the City's list for demolition, classified as uninhabitable.
The Calzadas have lived in the 100-year-old Victorian house in Beacon Hill for 50 years. Due to medical bills and chores that started piling up after Miguel's heart attack, things started to slip at home.
Dozens of people showed up, gloves in hand, ready to help in any way they could.
Many politicians and community activists were also on hand to show their support, including former District 1 Councilmember María Berriozábal, state Senator (and candidate for mayor) Leticia Van de Putte, state Rep. District 123 candidate Roger Gary, and newly-appointed District 1 Councilmember Roberto Treviño. Even an Uber driver showed up to shuttle volunteers from the parking lot to the work site.
The day's activities started with a prayer led by former Beacon Hill Presbyterian Church Pastor Tom Heger. The recurring theme centered on the concept of community coming together to support one of its own. According to organizer Bob Comeaux, the fundraising goal is already one-quarter of the way along.
Everyone was unequivocally supportive of seeing the project through. One can only hope this groundswell of political support leads to improvements in the way the City handles demolitions, which is obviously currently lacking.
Volunteers put everything in boxes and placed it on a trailer in the backyard. Whatever didn't fit went into a pile in the backyard. Comeaux joked that Miguel should perhaps hold a fundraising yard sale. There were more than a few interesting tidbits. Though nothing was of great value, it was the sort of thing that people enjoy putting in their personal collections of eclectic items.
All were focused on accomplishing their tasks, and set to it with fervor. It was all done within a couple of hours. By 1:30 p.m., Miguel and Bob were strapping down the load on the trailer, ready to move it to an offsite storage unit.
It's remarkable how quickly a community can come together to help out when made aware of the plight of its neighbors. In this age of social media and so-called "connectivity," it seems there are those who fall into the shadows – especially those who are not plugged into our brave new world of tweets and Internet feeds.
Yes, perhaps Miguel did procrastinate. Ultimately he found himself in a situation from which he couldn't extricate himself. That does not deserve automatic scorn from anyone. Our neighbors deserve our compassion, and one day, we might find ourselves in a similar situation.
If you can help out, either through donations or by offering your skills, please contact Comeaux at 210-326-2655, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
*Featured/top image: #SaveMiguelsHome cleanup party. Photo by Page Graham.