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I Saw Virtues Cultivated as We Built a Home

Rachel Falco Virtue Development 0 Comments


Thrive Center students researchers Rachel Falco and Christa Nelson with Thrive Professor Ben Houltberg on Hope Sports build, Rosarita, Mexico, June 3-6, 2016

Hope Sports Build
June 3–6, 2016
Rosarita, Mexico

As I anticipated going on a Hope Sports* home build, I was very much looking forward to learning more about how purpose-based identity could cultivate better athletes and psychologically healthy human beings. Before the build began, I had little idea how meaningful the experience would be for me. Although these athletes and I came into this experience with the intention to give to others, many members of the group spoke of how much they in fact received themselves.

The experience gave a group of elite athletes from vastly differing backgrounds the opportunity to come together and create something for a family in need. Taking part in a new activity such as building a home not only leveled the playing field with regard to skills, but additionally, it gave us the chance to engage in acts where perfection was not attainable or necessary. Working on this project for a family in need without perfectionistic standards allowed me the freedom to focus on the purpose of what we were doing, vastly increasing my enjoyment of the process. We were able to partake in something bigger than ourselves while playing a part in something purposeful and meaningful. At the dedication ceremony when the home was completed, tears of joy flowed down many smiling faces. Taking part in this reciprocal act of giving and receiving left a deep impact on me that I will not soon forget.

erecting walls-900x635I was able to see how the action of giving to this family and how the relationships developed while doing the work together were subtly cultivating virtues of generosity, gratitude, hope, and love. The hope instilled in the family receiving the home was movingly apparent as they talked of now having the ability to dream of the future, giving them the opportunity to thrive rather than merely survive. The hours of continual work from every individual displayed a generosity that grew as we worked towards a common goal.

The gratitude of both the athletes and the family receiving the house was hard to miss. I could see how the family struggled to put into words the gratitude that they felt as they were receiving a home that would profoundly impact their future. I could also see how the athletes’ gratitude for what they themselves have spilled over into their work ethic and fueled their desire to give to these strangers-turned-friends. Love radiated from these acts, and their emotional and relational impact was palpable. The love shared through the athletes’ service, the love given through the family’s participation and joining alongside us with the work, and the relationships that were built through these interactions have increased my desire for more of this type of experience in my life.

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*Editor’s Note: Hope Sports is a nonprofit organization that promotes personal growth and community among athletes through short-term service trips to Mexico, Panama, Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic.

For another Thrive student researcher’s reflections on the June 3–6, 2016, build, see United by a Common Purpose: A Student Researcher’s Reflections on a Hope Sports Build.

Thrive faculty member Benjamin Houltberg has worked actively with Hope Sports since its founding in March 2015 (see “Building Homes With Athletes So Athletes Build Character”). This work dovetails with his Thrive Center research on Achievement Orientation, Concept of God, and Emotional Health in Elite Athletes and on Virtue Interventions in Adolescent Athletes: Framing and Context Effects.

About the Author
Rachel Falco

Rachel Falco

Rachel Falco, a fourth-year graduate student in the Clinical PsyD program, is a 2016–2017 clinical research fellow. Her interests lie in psychodynamic therapy work with individuals focused in Internal Family Systems, Attachment, and Interpersonal orientations. She is also passionate about athletes and identity formation and has joined Benjamin Houltberg, PhD, in the work of Hope Sports.