By Page Hundley
After a brief summer hiatus, we are back with more blog posts just for you! This piece comes from Page, a new Chatham County resident who jumped right in as a volunteer. She has helped with office work, special events, and redesigned our outreach table to include engaging activities and materials.
After reading “A Simple, Decent Place to Live” by Millard Fuller (a founder of Habitat for Humanity), Page decided to write about her motivation to volunteer and why she keeps coming back to Chatham Habitat.
Why do I volunteer with Habitat for Humanity?
Hmmm, at first it was to meet people. I had just moved to the area.
And to give back to the community. I have the time. I like the idea of giving back.
And, I have certainly met people through Habitat. Great people from so many walks of life. The folks in the office and the women and men that build the houses: college kids from far away on their spring breaks, retired school teachers, corporate administrators, builders. High school kids working on their resumes for college apps. Women of all ages in tool belts. The homeowners themselves. I’ve shared a beer with a bunch of the other volunteers, seen a co-worker perform in a play, and been to a musical performance given by another. I’ve been to several parties given by Habitat. They like to celebrate with food and dancing. It’s a family, a welcoming group, a place and a cause to feel good about.
But, the more I’ve learned about Habitat, the more I’ve come to respect the concept. I recently read one of Millard Fuller’s books. His idea, to house the multitudes, was so broad, so huge, and yet, it has worked for 43 years and is only gaining momentum!
The numbers are staggering: the first home was built in Americus, GA in 1969, then 10,000 homes around the world, 40,000 homes by 1995 (when the book was written) to 800,000 homes worldwide completed by 2013 (the most recent figure I could find.) That’s staggering!
Most of the funding comes from mortgage payments on previously-built homes, community donations and the profits from the Habitat ReStores. And most of the work, the actual building of the houses, comes from volunteers and the homeowners themselves. Homeowners who are so grateful, so overcome with joy to be homeowners, that they continue to work on other people’s Habitat houses after moving into their own. And then, after being given the keys to their own homes, people who are going back to school, volunteering in their communities, getting better jobs. People who were unable to provide a safe home for their children before, bringing their kids up to get a higher education, to give back themselves. Brilliant!
So, I started looking closer. Each Habitat for Humanity affiliate is administered on a local level. And, sure enough, all of this is happening right here in Chatham County. People are volunteering to build homes with homeowners who are putting in “sweat equity” to build a home of their own. Not homes being given away. Homes that people are buying at reasonable and affordable prices with no interest. Homes that are being built with more care and to a higher standard than many of the houses that go up so quickly in the neighborhoods around us. Churches and faith groups are working together for the common good. Young people and older people and Republicans and Democrats, people of all races and ethnic groups, from the old guy in a pickup truck to the middle schoolers who came for a ReStore project. From executives with big corporations (ie: Cisco, GSK) in RTP to the members of the ReStore sewing group. All working, and not getting paid, for someone else’s benefit.
Ultimately, of course, it’s for the benefit of all of us as those folks who have the most need are risen up to new lives of pride and productivity. It’s inspiring, it’s mind-boggling, it’s how the world should work! I’m in awe….
That’s why I volunteer with Habitat for Humanity.