“Accommodate changing times.  Cling to unchanging principles.”

In a Sunday school lesson delivered at a Habitat work site in Leogane, Haiti a couple weeks ago, former U.S. President Jimmy Carter quoted one of his high school teachers, Miss Julia Coleman.  Imagine going from peanut farmer in remote Southwest Georgia to President of the United States and it’s easy to see how this particular wisdom from a teacher helped keep him anchored amidst turbulent situations.

I thought of how our new Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative (NRI) work is a response to changing times and how it has caused us to reflect on the unchanging principles that have served Habitat well since our founding in 1976.  Habitat has thrived on the principle of empowerment over charity and, in our NRI work, we take it even further—to empower an entire neighborhood of residents to offer their ideas for community improvement and to gain the skills and offer leadership to make the changes that are desired.

When our Habitat affiliate looks at our family selection, land acquisition, volunteer engagement, and fund development we now see it through an expanded lens of a broader community impact rather than single family impact.  But we continue to do it within our basic founding principles of “A Hand Up, Not a Hand Out” and by providing “capital and not charity”.

Check out President Carter’s full Sunday School lesson at: