Habitat Kent’s 2023 – our 40th year – was a time of celebration, reflection, and planning for the future.
Through three lunch and learns, we explored the key components of our mission: 1 – putting God’s love into action; 2 – bringing people together; and 3 – building homes, communities, and hope.
We celebrated the start of the house that would be home to the 500th Habitat Kent homeowner family. This milestone was made even more significant as the house sits just down the street from the very first Habitat home!
And almost 40 years from the groundbreaking event for that first Habitat Kent home, 340 people gathered this fall at the Goei Center to celebrate the organization’s birthday and all of the achievements we have made together as a community.
Throughout this year, I often wondered if our founders ever dreamed of the day this organization would partner with the five hundredth family? Did the handful of people who attended that first groundbreaking ever dream of the hundreds who would gather to celebrate our 40th, or the hundreds of thousands who would volunteer in the intervening years?
I think they did, because I am dreaming of the day in 2030, when we serve the 1,000th homeowner (and yes, we are working on a plan to get there!).
More important though, 2023 was a year of reflection. We interviewed our founding board members, early homebuyer families, volunteers, and past executive directors. If there is a single truth that came out of all those conversations it is this:
When Housing Becomes a Blessing – Instead of a Burden – Families Flourish
We’ve used this phrase throughout the year because its truth has been reaffirmed to us over and over again. When we interviewed Sharon, the third Habitat Kent homeowner, she proudly showed us her home and the many diplomas and certificates her children had earned prominently displayed in her living room.
When we interviewed Linda, Sharon’s daughter who is now a Vice President at a multi-national corporation, she said that growing up in her mom’s Habitat house opened her eyes to possibility! She began to realize her future could be one of opportunity.
For Tamela, she and her husband each opened small businesses, after just 10 years of having an affordable home!
These success stories could go on and on (to see just a snippet, please visit this video). With 500 families served, imagine how many more stories are out there, waiting for us to tell them.
Earlier in this post I admitted to wondering if people from 40 years ago could have imagined Habitat’s longevity and productivity. I’d like to ask you to use your imagination right now.
Can you imagine how much potential has been unleashed by the 1,500 or so children who have grown up in a Habitat Kent house?
We know that homeownership makes families stronger and gives them more resilience. We know they live healthier lives, both mentally and physically. We know their children perform better in school.
All of this lends itself to families flourishing, which leads to neighborhoods flourishing and a healthy and growing Kent County. That’s what we’ve learned from 40 years of service.
Another thing that has been reaffirmed to us is that we live in a wonderful community. All Habitat homes are a result of the resiliency of the homebuyer families and the generosity of our community. Those homes would simply not exist if it were not for that generosity.
When we started the 500th family build, we asked local vendors and subcontractors to join the celebration by donating labor or material to the build. Did they ever respond! Over $55,000 in labor or material donations were given. We are so blessed to be in this great county!
So, as you can see, we’ve learned A LOT this year. But there is one other item on our list that we know:
We’re just getting started!!
Bev Thiel, Executive Director
Check out this great video to see all we accomplished together over this past 40th-Anniversary year!