My thoughts leap to Jimmy Carter when I think of Habitat for Humanity. Carter served as the our 39th U.S. president from 1977 to 1981. A few years later, he and his wife Rosalynn plunged into working to provide housing for those who either had none or desperately needed to improve their living conditions. I mean to say literally working, wielding hammer and saw, laboring to build houses for those who need them most.
Many of us associate the Habitat program with Carter, a former president whose sterling character serves as a model for many of us. But Habitat for Humanity didn’t start with him. Millard Fuller, a millionaire entrepreneur, and farmer and biblical scholar Clarence Jordan and their wives are credited with creating the program that became Habitat in 1946. The two couples founded Koinonia Farms near Americus, Georgia, where all people are treated equally, resources are shared, and everyone shares responsibility for stewardship of the land. Four years later, the Jordans and the Fullers were kicked out of a Southern Baptist church in the area for their views on racial equality. Then a boycott of the Koinonia farm products took hold in 1956 and extended well into the 1960s.
The Carters joined what had become Habitat’s movement in 1984. Jimmy and Rosalynn, now in their 90s, still show up to work on at least one Habitat building project each year. Do you wonder what our current president will do with his time after he’s left office?
Since its founding, Habitat claims to have helped more than 13 million people have a safe place to sleep at night and raise their families.
Habitat for Humanity ReStore came along in Winnipeg, Manitoba, in 1991. Since then, ReStores have expanded to more than 920 stores in five countries and have raised more than $100 million to build and repair homes for families. It’s a place where donated used furniture is sold at a discount, and the proceeds go to Habitat for Humanity. Our daughter Katie and I have just spent a couple of days and a few dollars at the ReStore near our home, picking up what we need to furnish my dear bride Betsy’s new apartment at an assisted living home nearby. Eager, knowledgeable volunteers helped us find what we needed and arrange to get it loaded on a truck that would take it all to its new home.
Betsy’s new quarters look great, homey and inviting. We feel good about this. That our purchase of its gently-used furniture also will help someone live in a better home makes us feel even better.