Austin Carroll has a big heart.
We’ve seen him step in for teammates and take some punches.
We’ve seen him score big goals to give the Heat wins.
We’ve seen him in the Stockton community a lot, enough to be named last year’s Community Service Award Winner for his tremendous work in the Central Valley.
However, what you may not know what drives Austin to be the best human being he can be.
His father, Phil, was a successful businessman, a loving husband and fathe, however the thing that brought him the most joy was making the lives of others better. For 20 years, he took his family down to Mexico to build houses for those in need through the Homes of Hope program.
“My dad thought it’d be a good idea for us to see how people less fortunate have to live, and how we can help better their lives,” Austin explained. “My father would bring us down to Tijuanna or Ensenada, Mexico and help build a house.”
Since 1990, Homes of Hope has made it their mission to provide help to those who need it in 21 different nations with a network of over 100,000 volunteers who’ve built over 5,300 homes.
All the lumber and supplies needed to build the homes are delivered and a team of volunteers like the Carroll’s, along with the family receiving the home, pitch in and get to work.
In his younger days, Austin mostly played with the kids and helped paint the house. As the years went on, he saw how demanding the builds truly are, and began to do more, primarily being responsible for the roofing and trusses.
The house is built of wood, concrete and metal and typically takes two days to complete. While it may not look like much, Austin explains how grateful the families are to receive their houses, that they almost feel like they’re moving into a mansion.
“The moment they get to walk through their front door is when it hits me,” Austin said. “Before we finish, we take the family grocery shopping to get them out of the house so we can surprise them with finishing touches, like their new kitchens, some beds, electrical and maybe the most interesting is the front door.”
Sometimes even the simplest things can be taken for granted, like a lock and a key.
“This year the family we built for had never even had a door, so we had to show them how to use keys,” Austin said.
Perhaps the coolest part of the entire experience is after the reveal when the family walks into their new home and shuts the door behind them. The Carroll’s would knock, and then be invited in as guests.
“That’s the part I love the most,” Austin said. “It’s truly humbling.”
What’s humbling to see is a young man, 23-years-old professional hockey player, taking time from relaxing and training to complete the build with his family.
“We grew up very fortunate and so my mom and dad put a lot of emphasis on Home of Hope,” Austin explained. “Sometimes it meant me missing a hockey tournament, but we learned to sacrifice and make time for what was really important.”
Now-a-days the builds have taken on more meaning for Austin than just helping a family in need, but also to continue a legacy.
Four years ago, Phil Carroll passed away, but the Austin and his family have continued to rally around the ideal Phil lived by: helping others make their lives better.
“Each weekend we go it’s a time to reflect,” Austin said, “not only about how you’re helping a family, but how great it was for my father to instill these morals in our family.”
“I love doing it, and his legacy lives on through us returning every year.”
To this day, Phil Carroll Pavilion stands in Tijuanna, Mexico, a dedication to a man who gave much of his time and money to help those in need. The building dedicated to Austin’s father now hosts classrooms teaching English, writing and Bible studies.
There’s no doubting that the late Phil Carroll would be proud of the young community leader and philanthropist his son has become.