Habitat for Humanity is one of the leading non-profit organizations worldwide. It was founded in 1976 in Georgia, by a religious couple named Millard Fuller and Linda Fuller. Although they were millionaires, they came to the conclusion that they could serve a better purpose by helping people in need. The fullers had joined a community farm known as Kinonia Farm, where there were dozens of impoverished people who lived just beyond the area. Inspired, the fullers developed a model of assigning areas of land where they would build houses for the poor farmers. Within their first three years, they had already constructed two thousand houses with the help of their teams.
Habitat for Humanity addresses the very basic human need for shelter. Millions of people around the world do not have adequate accommodations (or any accommodation at all) due to financial difficulties or other circumstances. There are several misconceptions regarding the homes built and the people who are served by Habitat for Humanity. Many people tend to believe that Habitat for Humanity builds houses for free for poverty-stricken families. In actual fact, the organization builds houses and sells them at affordable rates usually with no interest. The prospective owners (known as partner families) are required to have a steady source of income, a good credit rating, and be able to pay regular mortgage payments. Beyond this, partner families also have to put in a pre-determined number of hours in helping the other volunteers to build the house. Instead of focusing solely on impoverished families, Habitat for Humanity also considers other circumstances. For example, a disabled person who requires adaptations in a home, which might otherwise be too expensive, in order to be able to live comfortably might be chosen as a prospective homeowner.
Habitat for Humanity and their volunteer teams currently build houses across the globe in approximately three thousand communities. They also run numerous youth programs and have campus chapters at universities and colleges. In this way, students are able to gain volunteer experience for a worthy cause, while helping people in their communities. Many student groups also organize trips to third-world countries and meet up with Habitat for Humanity building leaders there. There are many Habitat for Humanity groups across the United States as well, and just about anyone can volunteer. Building experience is not required for builders, since team leaders are eager to show new volunteers the ropes. Volunteers do need to complete a waiver sheet before joining. To get started, visit the main Habitat for Humanity website to find a branch in your neighborhood. All local sites list information on how to volunteer and who to contact.
Since Habitat for Humanity is entirely volunteer driven, there are plenty of other ways to help out apart from building houses. They operate several other programs such as A Brush with Kindness (home renovation projects), and Habitat ReStores (retail stores for fundraising). Local groups may also organize their own fundraising efforts. Other ways to help out include donating money, building or office supplies, or shopping at the ReStores.
Learn more about Habitat for Humanity with the resources below.
- Habitat for Humanity – Visit the organization’s official website for details on how to participate and more.
- History of HFHI – Learn about how Habitat for Humanity first started.
- HFHI Facts – Get an idea of the breadth of HFHI’s volunteer efforts with these impressive facts.
- Importance of HFHI – Providing a physical shelter is only one of the reasons why HFHI is so important for impoverished families.
- A Closer Look at HFHI (PDF) – Find out more about the humble beginnings of Habitat for Humanity and what they are working towards.
- Volunteering with HFHI – A student volunteer describes how much her team learned by joining Habitat for Humanity.
- Owning a Home – Home applicants must meet several requirements in order to be considered eligible for a house built through HFHI.
- A Volunteer’s Experience – A Habitat for Humanity volunteer chronicles her experiences in building a house.
- HFHI for Students – Students get a lot out of volunteering for HFHI including experience and extracurricular knowledge.
- Corporate Volunteers – Many corporations also send out teams of their employees to act as volunteers in HFHI projects.