Daniel Becton's trek around the country to celebrate love and kindness brought him to Minot and Hope Village this week.
On Monday, Becton, 26, worked alongside AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps team members who are staying at Hope Village. They gutted a southeast Minot home that was damaged in the 2011 flood.
"The more I travel, the more I see there's always people helping people. I wanted to celebrate that," said Becton, founder of Project Ubuntu. "It's good to see love mobilized and see kindness leveraged and utilized."
AmeriCorps NCCC worker Brandy Meador, holding a hammer, reaches for a tool from Daniel Becton as fellow AmeriCorps NCCC worker Caitlin McSheery-Bood holds the ladder during the gutting of a 2011 flood-damaged house in southeast Minot Monday.
Project Ubuntu is a national, year-long service project that will take Becton to all 50 states and Washington, D.C., by this August. North Dakota is his 38th state.
Ubuntu means "my humanity is tied to yours." Becton developed Project Ubuntu both to serve others and to inspire people to pursue a higher form of happiness that comes from serving.
He travels from state to state to devote a week to projects such as those related to poverty, education, child care, addiction, veterans, music, race, gang violence, nutrition and environment. His Minot stop is his first disaster-related volunteer effort.
Becton was steered to Minot by Emily Ostroff, a former AmeriCorps NCCC member who led a team to Minot last fall. Ostroff accompanied him to Minot this week.
Becton intends to write a book at the end of his project. He has worked as a newspaper journalist. He served as a volunteer with City Year San Jose/Silicon Valley, which is part of the AmeriCorps NCCC network, and spent the past two years helping the organization open its second international affiliate in London. He studied philosophy, music and women's studies at the University of North Carolina and has a master's degree in gender studies from the London School of Economics.
His idea for Project Ubuntu came about while in London.
"Because of my experience in AmeriCorps, I knew how to make it happen," he said. He spent two years building support and raising $17,000 in individual donations, none larger than $500. The money funds his travels, but additional generosity also provides him with free lodging and meals along the way.
Part of his mission is to raise awareness for the groups that he helps, and he is happy to do that for AmeriCorps NCCC and Hope Village. Becton said he appreciates the empowerment that AmeriCorps NCCC gives to young people to make a practical impact. He also is impressed with how AmeriCorps NCCC and faith groups have worked together through Hope Village to impact Minot.
"That's like the soul of America faith groups and AmeriCorps together. Everywhere I go, those are groups that are doing for others in a big way," he said.
His mission has been validated as he joins into the service that others have started around the country.
"I am really just living with proof that love works," he said. "It works everytime and it multiplies. It's been an incredible, personal, inner journey. I have gained so much from just being around the good people who are doing this kind of work."
Through his project, Becton also has delivered workshops on leadership, identity and professional development. So far, he has conducted 37 workshops and visited 53 schools. He also has presented to 45 groups, reaching about 770 people.
People can follow his travels at (www.projectubuntu.info) or on social media at (www.facebook.com/projectubuntu.)