Sometimes it’s nice to shine a spotlight on an organization that is doing good in this world. Habitat for Humanity is just such a group.
If you’re not familiar with this nonprofit, Habitat’s mission is to provide affordable and livable housing for those who need it. It is not a giveaway program; homeowners purchase the house, but Habitat does not make a profit on the sale. Future owners are also expected to invest their own time in building their house and others’ houses, known as sweat equity.
There are also Habit for Humanity ReStores, which accept donations of home improvement materials, furniture, appliances and other household items. The store proceeds go toward the Habitat building projects. These can include construction of new homes as well as improvements and neighborhood revitalization.
The end result of these projects is about much more than homes. Proper housing is seen as the basic first step to escaping poverty. Once families have possession of decent homes then they have building blocks on which to improve their lives. This can have the result of access to educational opportunities as well as increased job prospects.
Without humane living conditions, there is chaos and instability. But when these needs are met, then there is sanitation and physical safety. There are intangible gains such as dignity and self-respect. Entire communities can be lifted out of poverty and become cohesive, supportive and nurturing of their members.
Habitat is a volunteer-run organization. Groups as well as individuals are welcome to donate their time on a project. Habitat also has a teaching program to train women in the building trades. This can be particularly empowering for women in impoverished countries, who often face the worst of the global housing crisis.
The most famous Habitat supporters are former president Jimmy Carter and his wife Rosalynn. For more than 30 years, they have set aside an entire week of their time to volunteer with Habitat. Regardless of where one is on the political spectrum, I think we can all agree that a 91-year-old man with cancer who builds houses for those in need is definitely putting his money where his mouth is.
I don’t think he would waste his time with an organization that he didn’t feel was worthy. His quote has become representative of their global vision: “Habitat has successfully removed the stigma of charity by substituting it with a sense of partnership. The people who will live in the homes work side by side with the volunteers, so they feel very much that they are on an equal level.”
Get involved: go to habitat.org to find a project near you. Donate money, building materials or household items to a ReStore. Consider volunteering on a build; you might learn some valuable skills, meet some interesting people and do some good for others.