…Habitat for Humanity of Kent County brings people together, to build homes, communities, and hope.
Our mission statement, constructed of three simple phrases, economically expresses the “why,” the “how,” and the “what,” of Habitat for Humanity’s work.
What does Habitat do? We build homes, communities, and hope.
How do we do that? By bringing people together.
Why do we do this work? Because we’re seeking to put God’s love into action.
The absolute bedrock of Habitat’s reason for being is stated in our Vision Principles. It is the belief that “God’s love and grace abound for all, and we are to be the hands and feet of that love.”
There is a strong sense of equality in that statement. If the love of God is freely given for all people; if they are given that worth, just by being alive, then wouldn’t they also be worthy of far more basic things, like food, shelter, education, liberty, the pursuit of happiness?
That is our why.
If we were called to educate, then God’s love would motivate us to find ways to help those on the margins of our educational system. If we were farmers, that love would move us to work hard to provide healthy food to the hungry.
We have chosen, as our means of expressing the love and grace of God, to work with families in need to build affordable homes.
That belief forms our theological underpinnings, and its brevity and simplicity are profound! It makes room for people of all backgrounds to join with Habitat to express their own sense of justice and compassion.
And that’s what’s truly great about Habitat. We’re fine with people joining this work because of their own “why.” Habitat is not called to this work to get people to believe in our “why.” We’re simply called to help provide the very basic, and yet vitally important, need for housing.
So regardless of your “why,” if you’re concerned about families in need of affordable housing, you’re already a part of the Habitat family!
And over the past 40 years, our family has become quite large, with lots of reasons “why”:
“Let’s just say my life is deeply influenced by Matthew 25”
Warren shared his story at a barbeque fundraiser benefitting Habitat Kent.
He had had a full life. He had spent two different stints in Africa, working for his denomination, and another full career developing curriculum for Michigan’s Department of Corrections.
Warren was also an early Habitat volunteer, and he recalled painting some of the first Habitat Kent houses. It was clear, he enjoyed living a life of service that focused on helping people on the margins. In that parking lot, over a great plate of barbeque, we asked Warren what motivated him to live such an exemplary life.
With a soft tone and no elaboration, he said, “Let’s just say my life is deeply influenced by Matthew 25.” This portion of scripture contains the final teachings of Jesus in which he tells his followers what he expects of them, namely that they should care for those in need, just as if they were caring for Jesus himself. This was Warren’s “why.”
“The kitchen table was full of volunteer brochures, and I was told to pick one!”
We love the next story for its honesty and humor!
Before retirement and prior to joining Habitat Kent’s group of regular volunteers, the Carpenter’s Club, Bob worked on an automotive production line for most of his life.
“I spent over 30 years on the line,” he said, “and two weeks into retirement I came downstairs for breakfast and there on the kitchen table, my wife had placed all these brochures showing volunteer opportunities at various organizations. The table was full of them.”
“You’re going to have to pick one,” she said.
“I like working with my hands,” he said with a chuckle, “so I picked Habitat.”
Like the many retirees who are the backbone of Habitat Kent’s productivity, Bob enjoyed the camaraderie found on Habitat jobsites. Another Habitat Carpenter’s Club member once told us that because of the friendships formed on Habitat jobsites, his retirement years were the best of his life!
Friendships and the opportunity to stay active is their “why.”
“I get to share God’s love without using words.”
Another great story comes to us from a volunteer who was very skilled, a hard worker, and exceedingly soft-spoken; so quiet, in fact, one almost got the impression that speaking was painful. “I get to share God’s love without using words,” was the response given to the question of why volunteer at Habitat.
Whether that was a retelling of the quote commonly attributed to St. Francis of Assisi (“Preach the Gospel at all times, and if necessary, use words”) or a: “why are you bothering me with questions? Can’t you see I’m working” – we do not know!
Either way, the belief that God’s love and grace abounds for all and becomes real and tangible when it results in action, is at the heart of Habitat’s vision and work. The work of bringing people together to build homes, communities and hope!
It is our, Why!