Posted by: charityinfo | October 23, 2011

Building Dreams: The Habitat for Humanity Story

In 2008, Medelsonne and Rose Garraux moved into a home in Collier County, Florida with their three children. Refugees from Haiti, the Garrauxes have lived in the United States since 2004; the house that they own marked a milestone for the family. The construction of the house was also a milestone for the Habitat for Humanity International, as it marked the 300,000th house the organization built since its founding in 1976. The idea of a Habitat for Humanity took root when its would-be founders, Millard and Linda Fuller, visited the small Christian community of Koinonia Farm in 1965 and helped Koinonia build houses for poor families at no profit and with no interest which was a practice that began in 1968. Now on its thirty fifth year of operation, Habitat is the sixth largest home builder in the United States and continues to work across the globe to build quality and affordable homes for those in need.

At its core is the Fund for Humanity where the money paid by the homeowners is put into a fund so that new homes may continue to be built. The Fund, along with a healthy stream of donations, ensures that Habitat has the money necessary to accomplish its work. A number of high-profile supporters throughout the years have also had a positive impact on the organization. The most famous  or at least the most prolific supporter is perhaps former President Jimmy Carter. President Carter’s Jimmy & Rosalyn Carter Work Project began in 1984 as an annual week-long home-building event that aims to raise awareness of the work of Habitat for Humanity while constructing homes in different locations across the globe.

Although they are the bulk of the workforce, the houses are not built strictly by volunteers. In addition to a down payment and monthly mortgage payments, Habitat for Humanity-approved homeowners spend hundreds of hours helping to build their own home and the homes of others. It all ties back to the ideas put forth during the Fuller’s influential visit to Koinonia Farm, when Clarence Jordan, the farm’s founder, declared that “what the poor need is co-workers not caseworkers; capital not charity.” So Habitat for Humanity, while providing an important charity also provides the means and the capital for the less fortunate to have a simple place they can call their own.

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