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Archive for August, 2012


30 Aug , 2012

I’ve been doing a little theological reading lately which can be a dangerous thing.  I’ve read some reflections from the Trappist monk, Thomas Merton in which he writes about the various contradictions in his own spiritual life.  Merton was a strong advocate for social justice totally rooted in an all-consuming Christian faith.

You don’t have to read too much of the Bible to uncover apparent contradictions.  Here’s a familiar one:

“He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for my sake will find it.”

Mark 10:34

You don’t have to spend much time with Habitat to confront things that seem contradictory.  Habitat utilizes unskilled volunteer labor to build homes and we expect professional level quality.  We sell homes to families that trusted financial institutions find too risky and we expect on-time, regular payments.  We have built our business model around a biblical idea of not charging interest and we’ve grown to be the 6th largest homebuilder in the U.S. in so doing.  We seek out communities that other builders and developers shun as hopeless or too dangerous and we expect those communities to become places of hope and growth.

The Oxford English Dictionary defines a contradiction as, “a statement containing elements logically at variance with one another.”  A paradox is defined as, “a statement which seems self-contradictory but on investigation may prove to be essentially true.”

Paradox is everywhere at Habitat.   Come join us and see the beauty that lies on other side of paradox—families getting the opportunity to provide safe and decent places in which to raise their families despite the considerable odds against them.


16 Aug , 2012

Raleigh Police Chief Harry Dolan will be retiring soon.  He leaves behind a legacy of strong leadership in community policing.  See News & Observer article here.

Since Habitat Wake began our Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative (NRI) work in the southeast Raleigh community of Long Acres in 2010, crime has dropped an amazing 52%!  We give primary credit to the engaged residents of the community, but right alongside that the diligent efforts of the Raleigh Police Department under the leadership of Chief Dolan!

When we began work in Long Acres, we surveyed residents by going door-to-door with volunteers.  We overwhelmingly, and not surprising, found that nearly every resident said that they wanted for the neighborhood to be “safe and quiet”.  Long Acres is a long way there with a 52% decrease in two short years.  We will miss Chief Dolan’s leadership with his community policing model, but the stage is set in a neighborhood like Long Acres where the residents have become actively engaged.

15 AUGUST 2012 | DHIC

15 Aug , 2012

We are blessed in Wake County to have a strong and cooperative group of affordable housing providers across the spectrum of housing need—from those organizations tackling homelessness, to those providing supported houses for individuals with disabilities, to our own work to provide homeownership to families it the 20-60% of Area Median Income (AMI), to those organizations providing homeownership in the 60-80% of AMI range.  With an estimated 25,000 families with a housing need in Wake County, it takes the efforts of many to even begin to make a difference.

Earlier this week, Evan Covington-Chavez and I visited with DHIC, a local provider of affordable rental housing (primarily) and some homeownership opportunities.  While we are proud of the 400+ families that Habitat Wake has served since our beginning in 1985, we are in awe that DHIC is providing over 1600 units of affordable, well-built, and well-maintained rental housing.  DHIC was founded in 1974 and continues to lead the way in the development and management of affordable rental housing, a key component to addressing the overall housing need continuum in Wake County.

Together, we are looking at opportunities where we can collaborate and do some joint development—something that we believe will bring much stronger housing solutions to neighborhoods in Raleigh and throughout Wake County.  Check out the DHIC website at:  www.dhic.org.


3 Aug , 2012

Nearly 10 years ago, I had the opportunity to spend an afternoon with one of our country’s great servant-leaders, Michelle Nunn.  Michelle and I have stayed in touch regularly since, and I’ve always valued spending some time with her and experiencing her style of relating and leadership.  Michelle founded HandsOn Atlanta which led to the HandsOn global volunteer network, which then merged with the Points of Light Institute and is now the nation’s largest volunteer network.  Michelle serves as CEO of Points of Light.

Recently, Michelle delivered a lecture at the Chatauqua Institution in New York, where she presented evidence that our bodies and brains are literally wired to care and to give.  Michelle suggests that despite the negativity of our daily news cycles, we are “animated by an empathetic impulse” to respond to those in need around us.  Research shows that volunteers live longer, recover from illness more quickly, and suffer lower rates of depression.  College students who volunteer graduate at a 22% higher rate than non-volunteers.  Young people who volunteer regularly report a 50% less likely chance to use drugs and engage in reckless behavior.

Check out Michelle’s lecture on YouTube at:


It is a long (by design, Michelle says) lecture, but well worth your time.  You will be inspired.

Speaking of length, if you want to extend your life, get in touch with our Volunteer Services Manager, Jill Wiles Wolf (jill.wolf@habitatwake.org) right away!

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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