For Tami Welford, Tuesdays in the fall were reserved for building Habitat homes with a group of volunteers she organized from her community. While Tami was keeping her hands busy on the jobsite in Immokalee, her thoughts were with her sister who was losing her battle with breast cancer. In November, Tami learned that her sister didn’t have much time left, so she made plans to visit her and say goodbye.
Unfortunately, she didn’t make it in time.
“She passed peacefully at home with family and friends, as well as the hospice team right there by her side. It gave me so much comfort to know that she was in good hands,” Tami said. “I can’t have my sister back, but I will forever be grateful to the hospice team that helped her manage her pain and medications, keeping her comfortable and staying with her till the end. I think we all would agree that hospice nurses are truly angels on earth.”
Meeting a jobsite angel
Tami wasn’t really feeling up to joining her normal “Tuesday Crew” the week after her sister’s passing, but she told herself it was better to go to the jobsite and work on Habitat homes than to sit at home being sad. Not feeling particularly social, she opted for some quiet painting in one of the homes while the men in her group installed soffits on the house next door. She was joined by a couple of women in their 20’s who struck up a conversation. One of the women, Abby, asked if Tami was a volunteer and what group she was with. Tami told her about her Tuesday Crew and then asked if Abby was with a different group, assuming both young women were doing volunteer hours for school or work.
Tami was surprised to learn that Abby wasn’t a volunteer at all. She was a future homeowner. Abby told her that she was putting in her sweat equity hours and that her house was almost finished—it was the house next door that the men from Tami’s volunteer group were working on at that very moment. The two got to talking and Abby told Tami that she was an LPN and was going back to school to further her education and become an RN.
Abby wasn’t just a nurse, she was a hospice nurse.
“That melted my heart. I gave her a hug and thanked her for what she is doing for people going through such a difficult time, I told her about my sister dying just days before,” Tami said. “She was quick to tell me how much she loved her job and how very blessed she felt.”
After hearing her story, Tami didn’t hesitate to bring Abby out to introduce her to the volunteers who were working on her home. She wanted them to get the chance to meet the future homeowner who would soon be moving in with her family.
“I told the guys to put a few extra nails into the house they were building, because it was going to an angel!”
A lasting impact
The interaction was one that touched Tami personally and reminded her of the importance of affordable housing, even in affluent areas like Naples.
“Our neighbors living in Habitat communities are no different than neighborhoods in any typical American town. Some may argue that Naples is not a typical American town, but that does not change the fact that we are all humans and all hard working humans deserve to have affordable housing in the community where they work.”