When Weimar Institute launched its Total Community Involvement (TCI) program this month, some may have wondered why the students spent their first TCI Wednesday on campus instead of in the community. It’s part of an intentional plan to develop the bonds between students in a team for two Wednesdays so that they can work together seamlessly when they are out in the community starting in September. So, they focused on campus beautification and getting to know each other better as teammates. And yet even as they were engaged in this important phase of TCI, God had a unexpected community connection just waiting for them right next door.
Every TCI team has at least one staff member to work with the students. Yesterday Weimar Health Director Don Mackintosh was steadily working with his team preparing trails for the upcoming alumni weekend run. They sang and visited as they worked but didn’t realize someone was hearing them and getting irritated with the noise.
As they worked, Don went ahead on the trail to talk to the students who working another section. He then noticed a man by a house right next to Weimar’s property. The man called out to Don and emphatically said he didn’t want them to clean up the trail. The overgrown trail discouraged walkers and runners using the trail and had kept the area quiet which the man liked. So, he repeated, “Don’t clean up the trail!” Don was taken aback and thought, “This is not a great start to Total Community Involvement because now we have some community members who are upset.” Don tried to divert the conversation but the man continued his negative focus. Eventually, Don excused himself from the conversation and returned to the students.
The students were concerned because they had heard how upset the man was. Subdued, the group finished their work and left the area. However, Don felt impressed to return to the man. As he approached the fence dividing the properties, the man asked what Don wanted. He replied, “I noticed you have a lot of property. We’d be happy to help clean it up. Do you have other needs in your yard?” The man replied, “I have all kinds of needs but what business is that of yours?” Undaunted, Don said, “Well, it’s really not our business but we’re cleaning the trails for the community and we could certainly clean your yard as well.” The man thought for a moment and replied, “Well, I’m not going to lie [and refuse the help]. If you want to clean up my yard, that’s fine.”
Later, Don returned to the man’s house to assess the work to be done. He took photos and the names of the man and his wife and their contact information. At the end of the visit, the man said bewilderedly, “This is the oddest thing really that has happened to us in a while. Here I am kind of yelling at you about cleaning up the trails but you and your team don’t get upset. Instead, you say, ‘How can we help you clean up your yard?”
Don reflects, “It was somewhat strange but that is what Total Community Involvement brings about. Here we are minding our own business, cleaning our own trails and somehow, we come in contact with someone who has a need. Next week we’re looking forward to cleaning this man’s yard.”
Here is the first of many TCI stories to come. Who knows where this new friendship could lead? Weimar students and staff are excited to find out. Next week, join us to see what else God has in store for Weimar’s TCI teams.