Bienvenidos a Casa – Welcome home!
“I have no words.” This is the phrase that was delivered several times in front of a large assembly of WestJetters and community members packed into a small street in Nuevo Renacer. The words were spoken, through tears, by people whose lives changed profoundly as they received the keys to homes that would keep them safe, dry and fill them with pride. The speakers were not alone in shedding tears.
House dedication day is an intense experience within the already emotional time here for WestJetters. It seemed that the entire community crowded the streets to see dreams come true for eight families. They were there to share the joy, and for many, to share the hope that maybe one day their own home might come.
The recipient families put away the clothes in which they had worked alongside us for the week and donned their very best they owned or could borrow for this special day. Gleeful children ran amongst us and hugged us, climbing into our arms and on our shoulders where they could. This day was a celebration of immense proportions for all of us.
One of the homes was built for a family whose father, Gustavo, has worked with LiveDifferent for seven years building homes for other families and dreaming of the day when he might be able to build a home of his own. When his turn came to address the crowd, his words spoke to all our hearts and he called WestJetters his guardian angels.
Each family was given the opportunity to speak, and some could not get more than a few sentences out before emotion overcame them, and we heard the phrase again, I have no words. No words to express the gratitude, the change that this home represented for their families and the opportunity to have a dream come true.
After the key ceremony, each build team had the opportunity to spend time with the family whose home they had built. The heart-warming and heart-wrenching stories from each team are numerous, including one where three grown men – one WestJetter, one translator and the home owner – were standing quietly in a room together sharing tears of joy and triumph. The entire community shares that sense of triumph.
WestJet and WestJetters, with the help of LiveDifferent and this community, are making a huge impact here. We all felt the support of WestJetters back home and want to give special acknowledgement to those who applied for this trip but were not selected. We will keep our fingers crossed for you for future trips!
Each of us had our own unique experience here. The impact that this (and every WestJet build) has had on these families and this community is so vast we’ve each felt this impact. Many of us feel that we have received more than we gave. There may in fact be a dollar figure on someone’s desk counting the contribution of WestJet’s community investment in the Dominican Republic, but the sharing of tears, joy and gratitude of the families here is priceless.
The WestJet Hero Holiday 2014 team leads