Good People Doing Good Things – Habitat for Humanity AND Jimmy Carter

Unless you have been stranded in the Himalayas for the past forty years, you have no doubt heard of Habitat for Humanity.  I could not decide whether this post should be about Habitat for Humanity, or about Jimmy Carter, so I combined the two, as they rather go hand-in-hand.

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A Brief Bit of History …

Habitat for Humanity traces its roots back to a community farm, Koinonia Farm, on the outskirts of Americus, Georgia circa 1965 when Millard and Linda Fuller, living on the farm, developed the concept of “partnership housing.” The concept centered on those in need of adequate shelter working side by side with volunteers to build decent, affordable houses. The houses would be built at no profit. New homeowners’ house payments would be combined with no-interest loans provided by supporters and money earned by fundraising to create “The Fund for Humanity,” which would then be used to build more homes.

In 1973, the Fullers decided to take the Fund for Humanity concept to Zaire, now the Democratic Republic of Congo. After three years of hard work to launch a successful house building program there, the Fullers then returned to the United States and called together a group of supporters to discuss the future of their dream: Habitat for Humanity International, founded in 1976.

Habitat now works in 1,400 communities across the U.S. and in nearly 70 countries and has helped 6.8 million people achieve strength, stability and independence through safe, decent and affordable shelter.

Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Involvement …

Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter became involved with Habitat for Humanity in 1984 and has since become its highest profile proponent. He has been involved in fund-raising and publicity as well as actual homebuilding, taking part in the annual Jimmy Carter Work Project “blitz build”.  The Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Work Project is an annual home building blitz organized by Habitat for Humanity International and its affiliates. It generally takes place in the United States one year, and an international location the next. Not only do the Carters organize the project and contribute financially, but Jimmy, now 92 years of age, can often be seen in a hard hat using a hammer and saw!

Jimmy-Carter-2.jpgThis year’s Work Project takes place in Canada, and the plan is to build 150 homes in honour of Canada’s 150th anniversary.  The event kicked off in Edmonton, where 75 of the homes are being built, 25 more homes in Winnipeg and 50 homes in territories and provinces across Canada.

In addition to the annual week-long building blitz, perhaps the most important contribution Jimmy Carter has made to Habitat for Humanity is his enthusiasm and his name.  Carter has brought in both donations and volunteers and continues to do so.

What They Do and How It Works …

One of the most impressive things about Habitat for Humanity is that it helps people, but it is not charity, they are not simply given a home.  The family in need of affordable housing partners with Habitat, helping build their own home, and even paying an affordable no-interest mortgage.

habitat-6Habitat relies on volunteer labor in order to construct simple and affordable homes with its partner families, as well as to build community and civil society in the areas in which it works. Many churches and other houses of worship (synagogues, temples, mosques etc.) sponsor houses and provide a large amount of the volunteers from their congregations. Some corporations and businesses who value good corporate citizenship provide financial support to the projects and/or donate materials for use in construction. Many politicians and celebrities have volunteered with Habitat, reflecting its profile as a highly regarded non-profit.

But they do much more than simply building a house …

Habitat believes that a family’s success relies, in part, on the dynamics of the neighborhood, so they will often help with neighborhood re-vitalization and even help fix up neighbors’ homes. There is also a disaster response program to provide shelter assistance, education, training and partnerships to the affected individuals who find themselves in unthinkable situations. And finally they provide financial education services for new homeowners who may not be savvy about financial matters.  The topics include budgeting, credit cards, loans, saving & investing, and credit reports.

habitat-5.jpgThere are also a number of ongoing special programs under the Habitat umbrella:

  • A Brush With Kindness – groups of volunteers help homeowners with exterior maintenance, such as painting, repairs, landscaping, etc.
  • RV Care-A-Vanners – volunteers travel in their personal recreational vehicles, making stops at local Habitat affiliates to assist in house construction and renovations.
  • Women Build – provide an environment in which women can feel comfortable learning construction skills they might not otherwise have the opportunity to learn. Lowe’s is a major sponsor and underwriter of Women Build, and has generously supported each National Women Build Week. In addition to competitive grant opportunities, Lowe’s offers a series of free how-to clinics for U.S. Women Build affiliates.
  • Youth Programs – a variety of youth programs aimed at teaching the value of helping others are aimed mainly at kids 16 years of age and up, but one program, Youth United, engages children as young as five years old, though they cannot actually be on a building site.

One Family’s Story …

Sitting in front of the Habitat Charlotte home he helped build for his family, Mario reflects on what a decent place to live and an affordable mortgage has made possible for him. He feels like a better father.

And More …

Habitat for Humanity has partnered with energy companies, such as Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) to provide solar grids for some homes, saving the homeowner up to 85% on their electric bills, while helping protect the environment. They are planning to expand this initiative in the future.

There is much more that Habitat does around the globe, such as working in under-developed countries to help find ways to provide improved sanitation.  But alas, it would take a book, and this is a mere, humble blog post.  I suggest you visit the Habitat for Humanity website  to learn more about this excellent organization.

But the real story here is not the organization … it is the people who volunteer their time, who donate money and materials.  Those are the ‘everyday heroes’, the people who have learned that we are all a part of the same race, the human race, and have come to understand that we are all on this planet together.

24 thoughts on “Good People Doing Good Things – Habitat for Humanity AND Jimmy Carter

  1. Sad that President Carter collapsed during a HFH event today. They think it’s dehydration. My company of 200,000 strong has an event every year where we are given a day to perform community service. HFH is a service that many of us choose. The results are tangible and immediate.

    Liked by 1 person

    • OH! I had not heard that President Carter collapsed today! I hope he will be okay … thanks for letting me know. He has done so much good in this world … I hate to think of losing him, but he is 92 and has battled cancer at least twice that I know of.

      Thumbs up to your company for doing that! What a wonderful way to show humanitarian concern. I wish more companies did things like that.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Good review, and thanks for the trip down memory lane. In my volunteer work with MDS (Mennonite Disaster Service) I did one project partnered by Habitat, in Rock Creek, B.C., Canada, late last summer, replacing a home destroyed by wild fires there. It was a good experience. Habitat got the materials collected and delivered, we provided the labour. Needless to say, I buy a lot of supplies from the Habitat stores wherever I happen to be working.
    Speaking of volunteer work, I’m off to another one soon, this time a bit closer to home, in the Caribou, that’s north of here about 4 hours. Lots of homes lost in wild fires that are still burning up there… It often feels more like losing than winning but the involvement is what drives me to these things, like an addiction I guess!!! 🙂 Thanks again for a great read.

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    • Thanks! I’m glad to have given you a trip down memory lane! I have great respect for all who donate either money, materials, or most importantly, their time to this great organization. Another reader commented that every young person should volunteer at least once with Habitat, and I fully concur … they learn to do a bit, learn about giving of themselves, and help a fellow human in the process. Two thumbs up to you for doing what you do! You are out there making a difference, and I admire & respect that!

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  3. Jill, great post. Two things. Jimmy Carter is a fine person and likely the best ex-President we have ever had. Habitat’s model is all about helping someone climbing a ladder through sweat equity in helping another person. I believe it is a terrific model. Keith

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you, Keith! I fully agree on Jimmy Carter … he is just a good man all ’round. I started the post to be mainly about him, as he has done and is doing other good things, also, like supporting solar energy, etc. But, I found that I couldn’t do it without politics creeping in, so I shifted focus a bit, while still giving him his well-deserved kudos.

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  4. Dear Jill,
    Thanks for sharing this news. Great post! If I had my way, I would make every young person volunteer. They would be learning how to treat and work with others in a positive way as well as picking up some new skills.
    Hugs,
    Gronda

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Yes, Wonderful organisation! I have always liked Jimmy Carter…amazing to hear that he is so physically involved. What a great former President! He sets the ‘bar’ high, but there is one president I know that will never reach it. However, his predecessor might. Habitat for Humanity is successful because it provides ‘dignity and respect’ for the receivers of its labours.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, Jimmy Carter was not one of the most successful presidents, but I think he is one of the best former presidents, if that makes any sense. I admire him greatly, and here he is, 92 years of age, has recently fought his 2nd battle with cancer, and still building houses! Much to love here!

      Liked by 1 person

    • And no, DDT will never reach to those heights. Obama might, but he will never get credit for it. Even Jimmy Carter once said that the reason Obama was hated by some was not his actions, but the colour of his skin. 😦

      Liked by 1 person

    • I agree! They do good work and it is so refreshing to be able to write about good things every now and then. As I told another friend, it pulls me up out of the dark rabbit hole for a bit … always a good thing!
      xxx Cwtch Mawr xxx

      Liked by 1 person

    • Yes it is! I really wanted to include more about Jimmy Carter, his solar projects, humanitarian aid, peacekeeping missions, but I was having trouble doing so without any politics creeping in, which I felt would ruin the piece. Maybe another time I will do one just on him. Glad you enjoyed it!

      Liked by 1 person

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