Back in the day, Habitat for Humanity staged numerous long walks to bring attention to this new ministry. There was a 700 mile walk from Habitat’s headquarters in Americus, Georgia to Indianapolis to celebrate Habitat’s 7th Anniversary. There was a walk from Portland, Maine to Atlanta celebrating the 12th Anniversary in 1988. I joined this particular walk for a day in 1988 in Richmond, Virginia as we were launching our new Habitat affiliate in Lynchburg.
I remember reading a book several years back by U.S. Rep. John Lewis of Georgia. It is entitled Walking With the Wind, his memoir of growing up in substandard housing in Alabama where his grandmother literally told the family to walk to certain corners of the house during thunderstorms so that they house would not blow off the foundation. Then, of course, Rep. Lewis led the fateful walk across the bridge in Selma, Alabama to be greeted by police dogs and fire hoses.
We dedicated our most recent home on Waldo Street in Cary this past Saturday. During the dedication we heard the story of the father of the family literally walking hundreds of miles from his native Myanmar to Malaysia to seek work and income to provide needed medicine to their young son. Thanks to the relocation efforts of local Wake County churches this family reunited in Raleigh in 2009 and now t has secured a home in which they can thrive.
When you take your next walk think of a young fledgling organization that has now touched millions of people worldwide. Think of a young John Lewis rising to become a leader in the civil rights movement. And then think of the dedication of a young father walking miles and miles into an unknown future to secure needed medicine for a son. There is abundant faith in each of these journeys—something that encourages me and gives me hope.
Last Wednesday, we had the privilege of dedicating our most recent new home in Augusta Crossings that was built in partnership with the Ali/Karim family and our sponsors from Red Hat, WalMart, and Grifols.
When it came time in the program to make remarks, the father/husband of the family, El Waleid shared a touching story with us. On the morning of November 3, 2012 while he and his wife Salsabila were at WakeMed for the delivery of their second child, he received a call on his cell phone. He looked at the phone and saw that the call was from Habitat and even in the midst of the pending birth, he answered the call from a staff member on our family services team. El Waleid learned that his application for homeownership had been approved by our Family Selection committee and minutes later their baby daughter, Aseel, entered the world!
How’s that for a blessed morning?! It’s so much fun to be a part of such joy!
Tomorrow, Norma Smith is retiring after serving 16 years with Habitat Wake. Norma is Habitat Wake’s longest tenured staff member in our history. Thousands of volunteers from near and far have interacted with Norma over the years and have been greeted by her as they came out to volunteer. I always tell our staff that we are here to set the stage and enable the work of volunteers. Norma’s work embodied that. Everyone is welcome and everyone has something to give.
Norma joined the Habitat Wake team in 1997 as a construction superintendent after years in the teaching profession. In the mid-2000’s she shifted over to our Volunteer Services team. Most recently, Norma created a group of “hospitality volunteers” greeting other volunteers as they come to our construction sites and to our office. The positive, relational spirit that Norma has shared with so many on behalf of Habitat Wake will live on in our work as her legacy.
Norma is motivated by her Christian faith and knows well what it means to welcome others in Jesus’ name. She has lived that out each of the days she has served at Habitat Wake. Norma’s daily presence with Habitat Wake will be missed and we wish her the best in her well-deserved retirement, which based on her volunteer activities at her church and other places, will not be your typical “sit back and rest” type of retirement. Godspeed, Norma, and thank you!
I hate it when I have to miss a house dedication. They are such beautiful celebrations of an act that provides a life changing opportunity. Last Saturday, I had a family graduation celebration in Virginia and I was unable to attend the dedication of our most recently completed home in Augusta Crossings. I reached out by e-mail to our homebuyer partner, Ty, to tell her I was sorry to miss her big day.
Ty responded that she understood the importance of my family obligations and closed by writing, “Habitat is the greatest gift ever besides the Lord Jesus Christ!” Dedicating her first home on her birthday and understanding where those blessings come from.
Many thanks to our faithful partners from Christ Church Raleigh and Highland United Methodist Church for making this home possible and for showing the love of Jesus in a tangible way to someone who already knows it!
Jesus replied, “Truly I tell you, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and it will be done. If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.” Matthew 21:21-22
At our annual board meeting last Thursday, our board of directors approved a plan for Habitat Wake to serve 102 families in our fiscal year that begins on July 1. This is an increase of 19 families from this current fiscal year—or 23%!
This is more than sheer numbers. Think of the impact in the lives of those 102 families. It’s huge! Owning a home for the first time or having a long-time residence repaired makes a remarkable difference in all aspects of a family’s life. 32 families will have the opportunity to purchase a new or fully rehabbed home in Wake County. 35 families will have essential exterior repairs made to the homes they already own in the neighborhoods in which we are building throughout Wake County. And 35 families in western Honduras will be able to move from inadequate thatched roof, dirt floor homes to a modest home with a metal roof and concrete floor.
So, we’ll need at least 23% more of your prayers. And 23% more of your time and talent. We’ve created a budget that will need 18% more of your generosity—whether it is a donation or a purchase at one of our stores. I promise you that you’ll get more in return than you give.
…walk into a bar. No, seriously. Last Friday, we hosted the Triangle Business Journal’s (TBJ) annual 40 Under 40 leadership award winners. I had the opportunity to work on our Apex build site with these young leaders from throughout the Triangle region. My afternoon crew consisted of the aforementioned pair of lawyers, a marketing professional, and a pharmacist.
At Habitat, this is how we build. It’s not accidental. Our mission statement says that we seek to put God’s love into action by bringing people together. We’ve learned over the years that it’s not just about construction projects, but more so about the relationships that are built in the process.
What can two lawyers, a pharmacist and a marketing guy get done in a few short hours? Well, they completed the exterior house wrap on one home and then jumped over and helped put on the top plates on the house next door to ready it for roof truss installation. If you ask them, I’m sure they would tell you they were pleased with what they accomplished, but I’m sure they’d add that they had an opportunity to get to know each other while they worked—something that TBJ seeks to do among the 40 Under 40 cohort.
Yesterday at lunch we celebrated with these 40 Under 40 winners and thanks to a clever idea from TBJ publisher, Bryan Hamilton, we raised over $10,000 to keep building for more families in need. For each word beyond three that an award winner uttered in their acceptance speech—they agreed to donate $25 for Habitat! Check out this year’s 40 Under 40 class.
Professional builders would rather build than talk, so in that spirit, I’ll keep this short. Thanks to Savvy Homes, Regency Centers, A.R. Nix Construction, Williams Realty & Building, and the Triangle Builders Guild for showing up with their subcontractors and suppliers last week on our sites in Augusta Crossings in Raleigh and leaving the week with four completed and beautiful homes. Several other companies also participated by supporting all 4 homes: Stock Building Supply, PlyGem, and Baker Roofing.
These builders are talented, they are generous, and they are a lot of fun to be around. 70 Habitat Wake homes have now been built through the Builders Blitz model, pioneered at Habitat Wake in 2002. Thanks so much to those who have been and continue to be involved!
Here are some photos of the homes built entirely last week! I know that the Blue, Utley, Jordan, and Lesane/Quiller families are still in awe of the generosity flowing on their behalf. They are very excited to purchase and move in to these homes!
Last April, when I participated in a Habitat Wake work team to Honduras, I met a 13-year old boy named Junior. Though we spoke different languages, I learned a fair amount about Junior and enjoyed the time we spent together on the work site. Junior was the unofficial leader of all the kids who would come to visit our work site after school.
I learned that Junior would finish the local, free elementary school this past January and despite his desire to continue his education in high school, he didn’t think that would be possible because of the tuition and his family’s need to have him join the work force.
A second Habitat Wake team visited the same community a month later and they returned with a letter from Junior to me. In the letter, Junior commented, “I know that I am poor. But that’s OK. We can still be friends.” I found myself saddened that Junior is poor in a material sense and even more so that he is aware and can express it. That’s some tremendous wisdom for a 13 year old! “But that’s OK. We can still be friends.” The young man speaks the truth.
I returned to Junior’s village two weeks ago. And there he was—a much more physically mature young man, recently graduated from sixth grade—working in the store just down the street from our work site. And, better yet, he is attending “collegio” (high school) in a free night school program that has just opened in El Rosario. Praises to God for that!
I would add that it’s not OK that Junior and his family struggle daily with abject material poverty. That is not God’s will for them. Habitat is making a difference in El Rosario and the need continues to be great—almost overwhelming. And we are building friendships. Please keep Junior, his family, and El Rosario in your prayers that God’s love may continue to come to them in tangible ways.
Saturday, we were on vacation (Yep, the work of the week is now behind us!) in the Copan Ruinas area. We visited Mayan ruins, which was a first visit to the ruins of an ancient civilization for most in the group. To see the remnants of that part of the history of the region was spectacular. The ruins are impressive as they are today, but our guide promises much in the coming years, as archaeologists have discovered multiple layers of ruins with multiple structures and temples preserved beneath layers of rubble that will be revealed to tourists in future years. I will have to go back someday to see more.
After touring the ruins with our local guide, Marvin, we also visited a remote village where a few of the descendants of those early Mayans still live. These beautiful people scratch together a living from the land and from handcrafts of weaving and corn-husk doll making. The sales pitch of the children is I’m sure the difference between a good meal and going hungry for many in this village, thus a lot of handcrafts are going home with us…
This post comes from Gayle Campbell, who is the Global Compensation Manager for Habitat International and wife to Habitat Wake’s President/CEO Kevin Campbell.
Here is a creative blog entry by Annette Homiller, member of Kirk of Kildaire in Cary and active participant in Women Build: ”I was reminded of these Bible verses as I reflected on the weeks’ activities which we celebrated Friday afternoon:
- All of you are part of the same body. There is only one Spirit of God, just as you were given one hope when you were chosen to be God’s people. (Ephesians 4:4 CEVDCUS06)
- Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. (1 Corinthians 12:4 KJV)
- For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. (1 Corinthians 12:12 KJV)”