Business Spotlight

Greater Fredericksburg Habitat for Humanity

It takes more than wishing on a star to change a community, more than hoping to make a difference, more than “heart” to make a dream come true.  Sometimes, it’s finding a group of people who understand that community, like charity, begins at home.  People, who recognize that making a difference, may require doing something different, maybe something radically outside of the box!  Sometimes, you have to seek out the people who hope and offer a vision/dream big enough to hope for. It takes a group of people that places all their thinking, all their hope and all of their hearts into making another’s dream come true while realizing that sometimes teaching a man to fish is as simple as lending the fishing pole.

The Habitat story begins in 1942 on Koinonia Farm, a small Christian community outside of Americus, Georgia, with farmer and biblical scholar, Clarence Jordan. Jordan felt it his Christian duty to do something about sub-standard housing in his community and started the “Fund for Humanity”, a common purse that would create community partnerships. Then, in 1965, Missionaries Millard and Linda Fuller along with Jordan further developed the concept of volunteers working side by side to build simple, decent houses, i.e., “partnership housing”. This innovative model of house building followed the Fullers first to Africa and then in 1976, back to Georgia where Habitat for Humanity was officially chartered. In 1984, former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and his wife Rosalynn catapulted Habitat to worldwide renown with their personal involvement in what is now known as “the Jimmy Carter Work Project”, which sparked interest in Habitat’s work across the globe.

The Greater Fredericksburg Habitat for Humanity (GFHFH) was chartered on July 5, 1995, to address the housing needs of Fredericksburg, King George, Spotsylvania and Stafford Counties. Pioneered by a group of concerned citizens, Habitat’s quest was to utilize the “volunteer” model not just to build houses, but also to build community. They didn’t wait until somebody else did something about housing; they didn’t form a committee to delegate the responsibility to someone else; rather, they formed a neighbor-to-neighbor agreement that is still making a difference in the very community where it all began.  While the Habitat model of home building may not have answered every need within its targeted communities or met everyone’s expectation of what changes were necessary, it was a start. And, because it took one of the basic needs of humanity (simple, decent safe housing) and made it a central focus, it was a great one!

From the Board of Directors, to the Administrative staff and the contingency of volunteers, the work at the GFHFH is rewarding. The entire process, from locating the home site to building the house, requires a commitment of resources, time and energy, engaging friends and/or family and utilizing a variety of acquired life skills to make a family’s dream of homeownership come true. Our valued sponsors and/or business donors partner with us and bring their strongest business talent to work for a mission that we all care about. Because they understand what the GFHFH organization is trying to accomplish, they find a way to contribute to a specific project or support our overall cause. Such rock solid loyalty enhances the quality of life for everyone.  From our first family selection in August 1996, to the twenty-five homes repaired by “A Brush with Kindness” in FY2012, to our acceptance of eight new families into our program in FY2012 (where along with the required sweat equity we assist them in the purchase of their new home), or to the achievement of our strategic goal to build or rehabilitate 5 homes per year by FY2015. The Greater Fredericksburg Habitat for Humanity has never lost its belief that everyone deserves a simple, decent and safe place to live. We are still steadfast in our goal to be a catalyst within our communities to provide low cost housing.

As we think of all that happens within a home – the magic of celebration, the bliss of childhood, the joys and sorrows of family, the sights and smells…things shared for generations to come – we invite you to celebrate with us at our first Annual Fundraising Gala on December 6, 2012 at the Fredericksburg Expo. This year’s affair, vastly different from past GFHFH events, will launch one of our 2013 projects, “Women Build”, a house built by a 75% female construction crew! Our Gala will celebrate and honor “Women Who Build…Hope, Community, Houses”. Our honorees are Ms. Doris Buffett, Humanitarian; Mrs. Susan Spears; President Fredericksburg Chamber of Commerce; and, Ms. Mitzi Hamilton, Owner Handy Girl Home Improvements. Our keynote speaker is The Honorable Mary Katherine Greenlaw, Mayor of Fredericksburg, VA.

For more information, ticketsand/or Sponsorship opportunities, visit our website at www.fredhab.org or call our offices at 540-891-5009.

Pamela Coopwood
President, Greater Fredericksburg
Habitat for Humanity