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Archive for November, 2010

GRATITUDE AND IMPATIENCE | 23 NOVEMBER 2010

23 Nov , 2010

The Thanksgiving holiday is upon us and there is certainly much around Habitat Wake for which to be grateful.  We are blessed with many eager and enthusiastic volunteers, hard-working and grateful homebuyers with humbling journeys, a dedicated staff team who see their work as something much greater than just a paycheck, generous donors who loyally invest in this ministry, and cooperative City and County governments that help us navigate the home building regulations and process.  We are truly blessed at Habitat Wake!

Amidst all this for which to be grateful, is it also OK to be impatient? Sometimes, it seems, that being impatient is akin to being ungrateful, which is just not the case, but it is a fine line to walk.

I’m impatient that we can’t serve more families faster.  When you hear the stories that families have had to endure and are humbled by their gratitude and patience, it’s easy to realize that Habitat is a manifestation of hope for them and you have this strong feeling to do more and do it faster.

Thanks to many volunteers and staff leadership from Rick Kelly and Kate Jetton, we’ve hurried to complete Virginia’s house for Christmas and will have a dedication ceremony on December 16.   Virginia has patiently waited through delays due to lack of funding, but now her hope of a stable and decent home will be realized, thanks to all of you.

With nearly 10% of the families in Wake County living below the poverty line and stressed to meet housing expenditures that range up to 50% of their meager incomes, what will hope look like for them this season?

GRACE OR DIS-GRACE | 17 NOVEMBER 2010

17 Nov , 2010

I had the privilege of working with Millard Fuller, Habitat for Humanity’s founder. Millard was a millionaire by the age of 29, was committed to amassing more and more wealth and found his family and spiritual life suffering as a result. To remedy this, Millard and his wife Linda followed the advice Jesus gives the rich young ruler in the Gospel of Luke, to give away all of their wealth and direct their lives to serving the poor in God’s name. This led Millard and Linda to the Koinonia Farm Christian community near Americus, Georgia where, along with Koinonia founder Clarence Jordan, the idea for Habitat for Humanity was hatched.

Millard was a captivating public speaker and I was able to listen to him often. One theme that he spoke about, and I remember vividly, was that a “graceful” community was a community without substandard housing in its midst. For Millard, the opposite of grace is disgrace and he would assert that a community that had substandard housing was a disgrace. He would then conclude by energizing the crowd and encouraging everyone to work together for a graceful community.

These are strong words, but based on Millard Fuller’s understanding of God’s desire for people, Wake County is a disgraceful community. Amid the affluence that most of our citizens enjoy, there exists substandard housing and many families face this reality as they go to bed each night. 20% of North Carolinian children live in substandard or dilapidated housing. In certain parts of our county this substandard housing is very concentrated and whole communities must live this disgrace each and every day.

At Habitat, we believe that Wake County can become a graceful community, as Millard suggests, free of the blight of substandard housing. The remedy is clear, it’s just do we have the will to make it happen? I’m eager to hear your thoughts.

Income Disparity | 2 November 2010

2 Nov , 2010

“At the beginning of this new millennium I was asked to discuss here in Oslo the greatest challenge the world faces. I decided the most serious and universal problem is the growing chasm between the richest and poorest people on earth. Citizens of the 10 wealthiest countries are now 75 times richer than those who live in the 10 poorest, and the separation is increasing every year, not only between nations but also within them. The results of this disparity are the root causes of most of the world’s unresolved problems, including starvation, illiteracy, environmental degradation, violent conflict, and unnecessary illnesses that range from Guinea worm to HIV/AIDS.”

These words are from Habitat’s most famous volunteer and former U.S. President Jimmy Carter in his 2002 acceptance speech for the Nobel Peace Prize.

In our own community, we see this disparity. The families that Habitat serves have incomes between 25 and 60% of the area median income for Wake County. The average income for a Habitat homebuyer in Wake County is $26,537. The homebuyers we work with serve the Wake County community every day through their occupations in healthcare, childcare, and retail.

I am so proud of our families and the hard work they do each day. Just imagine trying to make homeownership work on an income of $26,537! It takes a partnership to make it work. At Habitat, we do our part by offering an affordable home with great mortgage terms, but the homebuyers certainly do their part—balancing a family budget with meager resources. Over 90% of Habitat Wake homeowners are still living in their homes today!

An interesting note on global income disparity: While the gap remains wide, progress is being made. Average wages of those in the wealthiest countries is now only 45 times that of those in the poorest countries. I know you would agree that the gap is still much too wide. And sadly, the gap is growing within the United States.

Habitat not only helps those in need receive a decent place to live, we also help with asset-building, a critical step in addressing wealth disparity globally.


Habitat for Humanity of Wake County
2420 Raleigh Boulevard
Raleigh, NC 27604-2235
Phone 919.833.1999
Fax 919.833.8256
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