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Habitat for Humanity

Habitat for Humanity is one of the most trusted and influential Christian charities in the United States. The organization was founded in 1976 by Milliard Fuller and his wife Linda. Its headquarters are located in the United States but 2/3 of the more than 220,000 homes that they have built, have been erected in underdeveloped countries all over the world. The houses that have been built by Habitat for Humanity now house over one million people and there are groups in over one hundred countries, who claim Habitat for Humanity as their organization.

Habitat for Humanity for Humanity is a group of volunteers as well as year round staff who are employed in the building of homes for low income families. These homes are not given to the individuals as charity but are built at no profit to the builders and generous mortgages are offered to the applicants of these homes. “What these families need is not charity but capital. ” A breath of fresh air from some in Congress who would like to expand the government to a point where a permanent welfare state is created and people are kept on welfare for decades.

Habitat for Humanity is so very different than just simply giving homes to people who have made bad choices in the past but who are anxious about making a better future for themselves. The homes are built by the families as well and there is little blind charity that is given to these families. Instead, what is given is a sense of pride and accomplishment for the family who has helped to build the homes themselves and who is responsible for the upkeep of the homes as well as keeping up with the mortgage, just like anybody else.

Habitat for Humanity teaches a man to fish instead of just simply teaching him to depend on others to simply fish for him as is the case with the welfare system in the fact of without having to work for what one receives. Even though there are restrictions placed on the type of family that is eligible to receive assistance from Habitat, there is no preference made towards one race, gender or religion over another.

Habitat’s website states: “Homeowner families are chosen according to their need; their ability to repay the no-profit, no-interest mortgage, and the willingness to work in partnership with Habitat. Habitat for Humanity does not discriminate according to race, religion or ethnic group. ” Also, the homeowners are expected to put in at least 500 hours of “sweat equity” into the building of the home. This simply means that the receiving family needs to spend at least 500 hours collectively, in the construction of their own home or in the building of another’s home.

This helps the owner to take a greater pride in his own home as well as perhaps teaching the family a useful skill in the process. The receiving family makes up an important component in the construction and upkeep of these homes. And this is the whole design of Habitat and is an aspect which makes the charity so attractive to contributors as an important and useful charity. Also, Habitat relies on the volunteer labor of anyone willing to put forth the time and effort to help build these homes.

One popular source of labor are college students who are willing to give up their spring break or summers in order to take part in something a bit more rewarding and productive that a mindless week in Cancun, getting drunk and partying until the early morning. Many of these students, 12,000 in 2005, as well as other volunteers from churches all over the country where the buildings are being erected, have had little to no experience with Habitat.

The appeal is to college students who want to contribute to the happiness of others. Habitat serves as a chief source of what is called “alternatives spring breaks. ” A decrease in personal gratification while in the pursuit of a honorable endeavor. There are a large percentage of repeat volunteers but with the degree of influence that Habitat has for communities all over the country, it is very likely that every project has included on its staff, a number of workers that have little to no construction experience to begin with.

This is not a cause for alarm since Habitat is always concerned with the construction of safe homes and there is always a number of highly trained staff there to supervise and build the safest and sturdiest homes possible. In accordance with the actual name of the charity, Habitat for Humanity International, there is a strong emphasis on building homes outside America as well. Some of the countries to receive some of the greatest attention are the Republic of Congo and in many places in Latin and South America.

These teams of international workers, generally comprised of eight to fifteen workers, embark on trips that can last between nine and fourteen days. These teams will meet with teams from their host country as well as the volunteers that will be partaking in the construction of the homes. “Habitat for Humanity is an ambassador of goodwill from one country to the next. With the mixing of different cultures and faiths, groups of people that may have had little to no contact with otherwise, becomes familiar with a new group of people and further expands their understanding of the world.

” Habitat does not just offer their services to the people living in the homes that they construct but for the people constructing the homes as well. John Forsythe, a college student from Illinois who volunteered his summer to go to Costa Rica to build homes for some deserving families said: “The time that I spent in Costa Rica was so awesome! I never would have been able to go to another country by myself. With the help of the interpreters, I was able to meet new friends and in working along side them, I got to understand another culture and befriend a lot of great people.

I had never worked so hard in all my life but it was worth it as I left with a great sense of pride and fulfillment in what I had accomplished. It was much more rewarding that just sitting in my parents’ house for the summer, looking for something to do. ” And these responses are typical of the many thousands of accounts that volunteers have, making it the largest volunteer organization for that year. The appeal to volunteer in such a worth while cause is universal. Habitat for Humanity also has appeal for some more famous individuals.

After Hurricane Katrina, many famous New Orleans, including Harry Connick Jr, and Winston Marcellus took volunteered their efforts with Habitat and helped to rebuild the city that they love so much, one family at a time. A recent Jon Bon Jovi music video shows the band and other volunteers, building homes in the Philadelphia area as part of Habitat for Humanity. The video helped to highlight the importance of community, family and how Habitat contributes to both of those things through the volunteer work in these noble endeavors.

The most famous individual to become connected with the Habitat for Humanity charity is former President and Nobel Peace Prize winner, Jimmy Carter. President Carter and his wife became involved in Habitat in 1984 and have gone all over the world, giving greater recognition to the charity as well some much needed attention in the media as well. Due to the low cost that these homes are constructed for and then sold to these families, a great deal of background checks is made in order to ensure that these homes are going to the right families.

Credit and police checks are conducted on individuals, vying for these homes in order that only those with a steady income but one that is below the government set poverty line, are the ones that receive these homes. This is to ensure that these homes do not go to the wrong people and do not serve as simply handouts to the individual and his family. Income requirements are paramount in one becoming qualified to receive these homes. Also, according to the founder of Habitat for Humanity, Millard Fuller and his wife Linda, “The homeowner’s monthly mortgage payments are used in order to help fund the building of future Habitat homes.

” And the cycle continues as more than 220,000 Habitat homes have been built since Habitat was founded in 1976. Due to the number of homes and the number of countries that these homes are built in, the range of costs can be very great. In some of the more underdeveloped countries, the cost of a home can be as low as $800 or in America, the cost ran rise as high as $60,000. The length of the mortgages range from seven to thirty years and each area that has been designated as an area of need is locally run by a Habitat chapter.

These chapters are involved in the recruitment of funds, volunteers, family selection and mortgage services. The headquarters are located in Americus, Georgia with the international headquarters located in Atlanta, Georgia. Habitat for Humanity is associated with government funding but according to their website: “Habitat welcomes partnerships with governments that include funds and other resources to help provide houses for God’s children in need, provided these partnerships do not limit our ability to demonstrate the love and teachings of Jesus Christ.

” Habitat was first started as a Christian charity and with the new president of Habitat, Jonathan Reckford, a executive pastor of the Edna, Minnesota Christ Presbyterian Church, Habitat and its volunteers are ensured that such visions will not be lost in our contemporary society. Habitat for Humanity International, with an emphasis on international, is one of the most trusted charities in the entire world. In 1996, President Clinton awarded the Fullers the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor for their work with Habitat.

President Clinton called the charity, the most successful continuous community service project in the history of the United States. ” This is due to a number of reasons. One is that the families truly deserve through credit and background checks. They are expected to work themselves on the construction of these homes and are expected to pay the balance of the mortgage in order that these homes are simply not just given away and the funds that are acquired from these no interest mortgages are used to fund more homes through Habitat, all over the world. More than 200,000 homes have been built in over 100 countries.

The homes that Habitat and its selfless volunteers have constructed, have housed more than a million people. “In the spirit and teachings of Jesus Christ, homes are constructed with volunteer and enthusiastic labor in order to help people. ” The difference between Habitat and many governmental welfare programs that give little to no incentive for the receiver to stand on their own two feet by the absence of expectations and timelines for when these handouts will cease, Habitat realizes that the working poor need capital, not charity in order to improve their living conditions.

Habitat is teaching men, women and children to fish, instead of providing simple handouts of fish that only cripple the receiver and create a permanent class of poor and dependent individuals. With independence and self reliance through the assistance of capital through home ownership, Habitat is giving their recipients more pride and feelings of self worth than any other charity in the country.

Habitat also offers its volunteers, an unmatched level of contentment and pride in helping others and in working along side the families for which these homes are being built. In this, Habitat promises to be around for a very long time.

WORKS CITED

Fuller, Milliard More Than Houses. New York: W. Publishing Company. 1986 Larry King Live: Jimmy and Roseland Carter. New York: CNN Repeat: February 12, 2006 Keyes, John. Habitat Hits 200,000 Homes. The Chicago Tribune. July 12, 2005. A12-A13 www. partners. guidestar. org www. habitat. org

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