It started with a successful millionaire couple 40 years ago. Millard and Linda Fuller sought to reaffirm their Christian faith by giving away all of their possessions and moving to a farm, where a group of Christians had gathered to intentionally live according to New Testament values.
Millard Fuller’s approach to starting Habitat for Humanity was counter-cultural even by today’s standards.
As part of their ministry at Koinonia Farm in Americus, Georgia, the Fullers helped neighboring low-income families build affordable homes. Homeowners were expected not only to work with Koinonia volunteers during the construction process but pay back the cost of the house to a revolving fund, called the “Fund for Humanity.” This model allowed volunteers to build even more houses.
Habitat Kent volunteers in the early 1980s
In 1973, the Fullers traveled to the Democratic Republic of Congo for three years with the goal to shelter two thousand people. The success of their program prompted them to return to the United States in 1976 and launch Habitat International, also known as Habitat for Humanity.
In 1984, former President Jimmy Carter participated in the launch of the New York City affiliate and his support for the organization has contributed to Habitat’s growth ever since.
And due to much generosity, grown it has. In 2011, Habitat for Humanity completed its 500,000th house in Maai Mahiu, Kenya.
The first Habitat Kent dedication in 1984 on Thomas St.
It wasn’t long before Habitat for Humanity expanded to Kent County. Habitat for Humanity of Kent County’s board first met on January 8, 1983, and the first home dedication took place on June 24, 1984. The land for that home dedication was bought for $2.
In the early years, board members were largely responsible for day-to-day operations and relied heavily on volunteer support. Now, Habitat Kent has grown to over 50 employees and the affiliate has served over 450 families. Habitat Kent also operates three Restores and has been nationally recognized as a leader in green construction.
So when we set our eyes on the future of Habitat Kent, let’s continue to reflect on our past. A past marked by radical generosity. A past that started with a heart’s desire to serve and that has grown into a catalyst for community change. And for 33 years, you’ve helped build stability and strength in Kent County. On behalf of the 450 families have partnered with Habitat Kent, thanks you for your support.
In my short time here at Habitat, I've been inspired by the numerous amount of stories of hardworking volunteers, families, and staff. My prayer is that in my position as Community Outreach and Marketing Assistant, I can do these stories justice.