In The Hundred Story Home, Kathy Izard sets out to recount the story of what began as a simple volunteer opportunity with Urban Ministry Center (UMC), but grew until she was helping to create a building to house the formerly homeless. A woman who was a graphic designer, suddenly leading a campaign to build homes for a hundred people, how can that be interesting? But it was truly an interesting and inspiring read.
Izard’s journey to “build beds” began after an encounter with a formerly homeless man, Denver Moore, who came to Charlotte to speak at a fundraiser Izard had organized for UMC. When Moore asked where the beds were after a tour through UMC’s services, Izard felt like it could be the answer to her desire to do good.
Izard is honest about her family’s struggles with her mother’s bipolar disorder, the loss of her father and the eventual need for her mother to move out of their family home. She insightfully reflects on how those experiences affected her particularly her relationship with her mother and as a mother herself.
In reading about the book, I had been apprehensive that it would be overly sentimental and religious, so I was both relieved and happy to find that Izard herself was skeptical of “god-instances” and feeling called to help. Izard is not a religious person, preferring to volunteer at the soup kitchen with her small daughters rather than dress them up and sit in pews to listen to a pastor tell stories of how one should act in a godly way. It is this desire to act, that leads her to follow the path the question Denver Moore posed to her all the way through creating a building to house the homeless.
I had a personal connection to the story from living in Charlotte around the same time Izard was working on the Moore House and I have to say, I knew nothing about it. But the locations and organizations were familiar. I also related to Izard’s feeling of how separate the worlds are in Charlotte.
A good friend (Ellen) recommended The Hundred Story Home by Kathy Izard to me and I am glad I took her up on the recommendation. Six years ago, I quit a lucrative career in marketing at a large bank to become a Social Worker/therapist, so Izard’s story about feeling compelled to do something more with her life hit home for me. It also made me think about my impact on my community and if I can do more. So be prepared, you might feel compelled to start volunteering or making other efforts to help those around you.