By Mary Metz, Habitat MontDelco Board Member
Last month, more than 2,300 people, from more than 500 Habitat for Humanity affiliates came together for the annual Habitat for Humanity International Conference. At every turn I was in awe of the enthusiasm and dedication to Habitat’s mission from all in attendance.
Attendees traveled to Atlanta from all over the world – from large affiliates with complex staffing structures, to small affiliates made up solely of volunteers.
Whether they were a full time staff member, a volunteer, or a board member like myself, attendees came to learn, to listen and to help continue the mission of bringing people together to build homes, communities and hope.
Currently, I am a member of the Family Service Committee, Board Member, and a Financial Coach to ‘Almost Home’ participants. At Conference, I came away with a few key insights:
- Our ‘Almost Home’ program, a course on financial literacy, which also offers each graduate a volunteer financial coach to help them apply their new knowledge to their own households, is exactly what is needed to help individuals stabilize their financial life and succeed in finding a stable place to call home.
- Our critical home repairs are truly a way to give a hand up to current homeowners (usually longtime residents to the neighborhood) so that they can stay in their own homes. Rehabbing homes in neighborhoods keeps homes from being abandoned and helps a street become a neighborhood. A strong, safe neighborhood is key to creating a healthy housing ecosystem.
The main thing I learned is that Habitat’s mission to address the urgent need for affordable housing is no longer just about building a home.
While building homes and fostering home ownership is still vitally important, it will never be enough. We need to continue and expand our programs around rehabilitation, critical home repair, neighborhood revitalization and financial literacy to help people create stable neighborhoods.
Its been a few weeks since I attended, and I am still trying to find the words to give a worthy snapshot of Conference and to inspire others to get involved with Habitat’s mission. What I do know is that Habitat MontDelco is on the right path—we have a dedicated staff, loyal volunteers and a generous community.
We need to continue to tell our story and ask for support while being responsible stewards of our donors’ generosity, so that we can continue to help people find neighborhoods and communities they are proud to call home.