Habitat helps build father-daughter bond
Charlie Bremer chokes up as he talks about the Habitat builds that he has done with his daughter, Molly, during her spring breaks.
Four times, father and daughter traveled far from their Northern Virginia home to help other families build their houses. Memories of those times are precious, especially now that Molly is grown and out on her own.
“Whether it was work or school or sports or whatever, life kind of flies by,” Charlie says. “These builds gave Molly and me this concentrated time together and no doubt brought us closer together. For that reason, Habitat is and always will be a very important part of our life.”
Charlie, a retired financial advisor, and Molly, a soon-to-be registered dietitian, hope that they will build together again soon, once life settles down a bit. For now, father and daughter reflect on what they discovered about themselves — and each other — on their spring break builds in Hattiesburg, Mississippi; Taos, New Mexico; Dallas, Texas; and Cary, North Carolina.
A father’s take
I love my Molly. The words I would use to describe her are friendship and diligence. She is a good friend and makes good friends. She always works so hard even when things don’t come easily.
My son and I had done Boy Scouts together, and I was looking for something special to do with Molly. I selfishly wanted to do Habitat. I also wanted Molly to learn how to hold a hammer and work a screwdriver.
I said to her, “How would you like to go and do a house build?” She didn’t hesitate. We did our first build in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, and just loved it.
Never in a million years did I think we would build with Habitat over four spring breaks. Those are golden times for a kid, but she was always up for it.
These builds gave Molly and me this concentrated time together and no doubt brought us closer together.— Charlie Bremer, volunteer
We did a lot of doorknobs and painting. She liked it and was good at it. I knew she would be. She didn’t complain and always put in a full day’s work.
I also wanted Molly to expand her world view. The house we worked on in Taos was fascinating. It was made of adobe, and I had never worked with that. The homeowner had a daughter who was quite disabled.
I thought that whole experience was Habitat to the 50th degree — someone in need and someone who was so grateful. That house changed their life.
As did the one in North Carolina. And Mississippi. And Texas. I wanted Molly to see that.
No question that these builds brought us closer together. Really, from a parent’s standpoint, what could be better? You are doing something for other people. You are doing something for yourself because there is such satisfaction that comes from doing that kind of physical labor. You are doing something together.
A daughter’s perspective
One of the biggest compliments I ever got from my dad is that I remind him of himself. He said that I have always been good at finishing tasks. Follow-through is very important to me.
Here is how I would describe my dad. He is a doer. He is very accountable and sticks to his word. He is a really good listener and will ask some questions, but I like that he doesn’t try to fix all of my problems like some parents would.
As a daughter with two older brothers, it was pretty cool that my dad asked me to do a Habitat build with him, something that you might not think of as a typical father-daughter bonding activity.
Both of my parents have always been good about not judging their kids based on gender. It was always, ‘Molly can do whatever she wants to do.’ Looking back, I think that was pretty powerful.
It was pretty cool that my dad asked me to do a Habitat build with him, something that you might not think of as a typical father-daughter bonding activity.— Molly Bremer, volunteer
Growing up, I had always heard stories that my father was such a hard worker. But seeing that hands-on, in action on the build sites, stuck with me more than the stories. My dad was always asking if there was more we could do.
I am not very natural on the build site. But building with Habitat gave me the confidence to try everything. I did roofing at one site, and I never thought I would do roofing. I found what I really like to do. I enjoy painting.
The exposure I got through Habitat was eye-opening. I am super blessed to be born into my family, but I did nothing to deserve my good life. These Habitat trips really affected the way I view the world. They have definitely made me into a more empathetic and understanding person.
I also saw how service-oriented my dad is. He loves to give back. And it is important for me to have that service piece be a part of my career and life. If I don’t have it, I know I won’t feel fulfilled.