The following creative essay, written by a professional sample essay writer, shares both a business and historical analysis of Habitat for Humanity, and the writer’s own experiences with the organization on a first-hand basis.
My experience with Habitat for Humanity
This is a bit personal for me. I was on the board for Habitat for Humanity (“Habitat”) in my local area. A volunteer position that I loved, which fit my personality like a soft leather glove. It provided me with the opportunity to do a number of things that the foundation needed, and there was no end to the flow of activity, or the feeling that I was truly helping someone in need. After a number of months with the philanthropic organization, I discovered that my employer required that all volunteer work had to be approved. Of course, I submitted my paperwork, never giving it a thought. Perhaps a month or so later, I received a letter indicating that I could no longer volunteer for the charity because it would represent a conflict of interest. I cannot convey the level of shock that I experienced on receipt of that writing, in fact, I requested that the determination be reconsidered, though the outcome was the same. I was forced to quit my relationship with Habitat, a pain that I have in fact, not gotten over even today, as tears well up in my eyes, even now. So it is with great love and affection that I speak about the housing ministry that escaped me.
How the organization began
Habitat for Humanity International was started by Millard and Linda Fuller in 1976 (“The History”). The non-profit organization was founded for the purpose of providing basic, quality, low cost housing to low income individuals the world over. As with many global entities of substance, the program started with a simple idea – partnership housing – where those who needed basic shelter could partner with volunteers who could help them achieve their dream of decent housing. It all started at Koinonia Farm, which was a Christian community located near Americus, Georgia, not too far from the hometown of President Jimmy Carter. Koinonia Farm, founded by scholar Clarence Jordan in 1942, was an interracial plot where a community of believers shared their faith through work, service, study, fellowship and community (“A Brief History”).
The Fullers visited the farm in 1965, and soon Jordan and the Fullers developed the conceptual beginnings of Habitat for Humanity, as the foundation for helping those who were in need of obtaining basic housing for themselves and their family (“The History”). The philosophy was that there would be no profit obtained as a result of the building of homes, and no interest would be applied to the mortgage loans. The cost of lumber, bricks and construction materials would derive from The Fund for Humanity, a revolving fund. The Fund’s resources accrued from organizational fund-raising, monthly payments made by homeowners, and loans with no interest affixed, given by foundation supporters. The Fund for Humanity would continuously refresh, through the various deposit sources and would serve to build additional homes in the future (“The History”).
Building the first homes
Long before the days of crowdfunding sites, donations for the building of homes came from churches, organizations, and philanthropists from across the nation. Koinonia developed forty two half-acre plots for homes in 1968 (“The History”). Four acres formed the basis for a community recreational area. The Habitat for Humanity model, where the homes built were sold to impoverished families for no profit or interest, was born. After Jordan’s sudden death in 1969 (“A Brief History”), the Fullers and others continued his legacy through advancing the progress of the organization (“The History”). In 1973, the Fullers broadened the focus of Habitat, and moved to Mbandaka, Zaire, which is now called the Democratic Republic of Congo. The objective was to provide affordable shelter to 2,000 individuals in need. It took the Fullers three years to complete this task, but once they did, they returned home to America (“The History”).
Millard and Linda gathered with supporters to discuss the birth of Habitat for Humanity International (“The History”). The world renowned organization is an American icon symbolic of what can happen when people put their minds, hearts and faith together to solve the essential problems of mankind. When the Fuller’s neighbor and fellow Christian, President Jimmy Carter and his wife embarked on a one week trip to New York City, called the Jimmy Carter Work Project (“Project”), numerous volunteers joined them to renovate a nineteen-unit apartment building, completed in July of 1985 (“Carter Work Project”). The Carter’s involvement in Habitat for Humanity sparked national awareness, dramatic levels of publicity, and an increase in satellite programs nationwide (“The History”). In fact, the Carter Work Project has had 32 annual events since 1984. The 33rd Project event will be held in Memphis, Tennessee this year. Unfortunately, the 2015 event scheduled for Nepal had to be cancelled, partially because of the devastating earthquake Nepal experienced in April of 2015 , and the safety risks for the volunteers arising from the civil unrest affiliated with the institution of a new constitution in the country (“Carter Work Project”). The Embassy warned that services that would normally be available to help in an emergency would be severely curtailed due to fuel shortages and border blockages. Project leaders were mindful that the resources projected to be consumed by the 1500 volunteers scheduled to attend, would have a harsh impact on limited supplies for those in dire need.
Habitat for Humanity today
Habitat has been the source of affordable housing for over 6.8 million people since 1976 (“The History”). In addition, it has provided volunteers and supporters an amazing framework for living their faith through doing good works for their fellow man. Habitat for Humanity has associated affiliates around the world (“Where Habitat”). Headquarters are located in the United States. In addition, national affiliate offices are located in Canada, Europe and Central Asia, in the Asia Pacific region, in Latin America and the Caribbean, and Africa and the Middle East. The national offices partner with local community level Habitats, offering guidance and management. The community level and national offices are independent non-profit organizations, that work within the Habitat Affiliate Covenant, but which coordinate fundraising, site determination, family qualification and review, construction and loan servicing under the district banner (“Habitat for Humanity Affiliates”).
Home ownership qualifications
Families are part of the building process on their own homes in conjunction with volunteers (“Through Shelter”). Part of their payback is the investment they make in sweat equity (“What is Sweat Equity”). Sweat equity is the contribution the new prospective homeowner makes by means of effort and toil. It is an ownership interest measured by hard work contributed to and invested in the building project. Habitat homeowners often invest hundreds of hours in sweat equity during the building of their home. The sweat equity that the homeowner invests is not limited to the building of their own house, but can also come in the form of helping others to build their homes, taking classes to ensure the owners fully understand the financial aspects of home ownership, working at Habitat for Humanity ReStores, and more (“Through Shelter”).
Although qualification varies from affiliate to affiliate, in New Haven, Connecticut, for example, potential homeowners must demonstrate there is a real individual need for housing. Applicant references and personal statements are often reviewed at this stage. The prospective owners have the ability to pay the resulting mortgage that will arise as a result of the build, and have a proactive willingness to be a Habitat partner (“Requirements for Homeownership”). A New Haven applicant is required to give a minimum of 400 hours of sweat equity with respect to the building of homes, 100 hours by the primary, 60 hours per week, and comply with other sweat equity requirements; live in a neighborhood where builds are occurring; and take homeownership classes.
Short and long-term volunteer programs
Habitat for Humanity International has a variety of ways that people can volunteer their time and services (“Volunteer with Habitat”). Individuals seeking volunteer opportunities can help in their own communities, or can participate in trips for a period of one or two weeks across the nation or worldwide. Volunteer opportunities exist at local build sites and also at ReStores. Habitat trips are available, both long and short term, for volunteers through the Global Village or through the RV Care-A-Vanners. In addition to these programs, there are also special volunteer programs, including Women Build, Youth Programs, Veterans Build, Home Preservation, and Thrivent Builds with Habitat for Humanity. There are also other service opportunities at Habitat, like the International Volunteer Program, U.S. Volunteer Program, National Service: AmeriCorpsand VISTA, and the Disaster Response Program (“Volunteer with Habitat”).
How to become an affiliate
The best way to become an affiliate is to contact a local office near you. They can help you begin the process and answer many of your formal and informal questions. Habitat has an affiliate search engine that you can use to identify local offices. You can also find out more by contacting Habitat for Humanity International by phone, email or snail mail. Most states have support organizations that will assist new U.S. affiliates to service more people, with technical and training aid, to develop resources, and for disaster relief assistance and support.
The “Women Build” program
Habitat for Humanity offers an unbelievable home building program for women who want to help, while also developing construction skills (“Women Build”). What is amazing is that no experience is necessary with the Women Build program. You can learn a skill and help mothers and children facing the housing crisis. Throughout the year there are special Women Build volunteering opportunities across the country.
Are you an RV lover? Habitat for Humanity offers an opportunity called RV Care-A-Vanners, to volunteer while you travel the United States and Canada in your RV (“RV Care-A-Vanners.”). What fun! These volunteers work on many projects, including home construction, working on home interiors, renovation work, finishing work or disaster relief programs. For those who do not want to work construction, there is also office work, sponsoring opportunities, fundraising, and build site “gofer” work. Are you a keynote speaker, or think you are? You can make presentations to civic groups, churches and media.
In addition to building new homes…
In addition to the many things Habitat already does, they also make repairs and renovate existing homes; get involved in community revitalization efforts; advocate for fair housing policies; help with clean up through disaster recovery; restore and resell household appliances furnishings and materials; and provide microloans for international home improvement. If you want to live your faith, Habitat for Humanity International offers so many opportunities to transform your thoughts into reality. Take steps to explore the possibilities, because your heart will soar.
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“A Brief History.” Koinonia Farm. n. d. Web. 31 May 2016. https://www.koinoniafarm.org/about/.
“Carter Work Project History: 1984-1989.” Habitat for Humanity. Habitat for Humanity® International. n. d. Web. 31 May 2016. https://www.habitat.org/volunteer/build-events/carter-work-project/locations.
“Habitat for Humanity Affiliates.” Habitat for Humanity® International. n. d. Web. 31 May 2016. https://www.habitat.org/about.
“Requirements for Homeownership Applicants.” Habitat for Humanity of Greater New Haven. n. d. Web. 31 May 2016. http://habitatgnh.org/homeownership/requirements-for-homeownership-applicants/.
“RV Care-A-Vanners.” Habitat for Humanity® International. n. d. Web. 31 May 2016. http://www.habitat.org/rv.
“The History of Habitat.” Habitat for Humanity. Habitat for Humanity® International. n. d. Web. 31 May 2016. https://www.habitat.org/how/historytext.aspx.
“Through Shelter, We Empower.” Habitat for Humanity® International. n. d. Web. 31 May 2016. https://www.habitat.org/housing-help.
“Volunteer with Habitat.” Habitat for Humanity® International. n. d. Web. 31 May 2016. https://www.habitat.org/volunteer.
“What is Sweat Equity.” Habitat for Humanity® International. n. d. Web. 31 May 2016. http://www.habitat.org/blog/what-is-sweat-equity-272.
“Where Habitat for Humanity Builds — World Wide.” Habitat for Humanity® International. n. d. Web. 31 May 2016. https://www.habitat.org/where-we-build.
“Women Build.” Habitat for Humanity® International. n. d. Web. 31 May 2016. https://www.habitat.org/volunteer/near-you/women-build.
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