The cause doesn’t matter. If it helps the community, if it builds opportunities, if it makes life just a little better for others or if it instills a sense of hope in the hopeless ... that’s why volunteers serve as volunteers. That’s why they want to live life beyond the established parameters of 9 to 5 and Monday through Friday, or sticking to the comfort of all that is predictable.
Volunteers like to step outside their comfort zones.
The same goes for new homeowners, especially those whose American Dream has been made possible through partnerships — such as the familiar “sweat equity” that defines the whole premise behind the work of Habitat for Humanity of Cleveland.
Working shoulder-to-shoulder with Habitat volunteers, local families who have qualified for a homebuild and who have made the commitment to paying a mortgage, help to construct their own homes.
By the time the modest, but decent house is constructed, new friendships have been forged between family members and unpaid teams of volunteers. And perhaps most importantly, new volunteers have risen.
That’s another key feature of the Habitat for Humanity experience. New homeowners who have been given a hand-up by community volunteers subsequently become volunteers themselves.
New Habitat homeowners give their volunteer time to help build the homes of future Habitat homeowners.
New Habitat homeowners give witness — through act, action and deed — of how Habitat for Humanity changed their lives, and how they will never forget the emotional tie of this outreach.
New Habitat homeowners counsel with early applicants because they remember the uncertainty of that early stage when they took the first step toward owning a home, but struggled with fears of the unknown.
New Habitat homeowners help to spread the word of this respected nonprofit’s mission by speaking publicly — in small groups, in civic club presentations and sometimes during major community functions.
New Habitat homeowners take pride in their new neighborhoods by maintaining their homes and property, especially in exclusive subdivisions like Century Village, South Gate Hills and Victory Cove where every house is a Habitat home.
New Habitat homeowners pay their own mortgages as any Cleveland and Bradley County family would; the key differences being that they helped to build their homes and completed extensive screening, orientation and home-ownership training in exchange for zero-percent financing.
New Habitat homeowners also make it possible for others to become Habitat homeowners through special deeds and personal convictions.
An example can be found Saturday. At Oak Grove Elementary School from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., three Habitat families are hosting a “Carnival and Sing-Off” fundraiser in which proceeds will go directly to the construction of future Habitat for Humanity homes.
The trio of young families include Carley Whaley and her son, Isaiah; Stephanie, Kathy and Chris Locke; and Mindie and Wesley Freeman. The Freemans have already moved into their home; the Whaleys and Lockes will be moving into theirs soon.
Habitat Family Services Manager NaCole Massingill put it into perspective.
“They took the initiative and planned this themselves,” she said. “This was their idea from start to finish. They have really taken it and run with it.”
Truly, the Freemans, Whaleys and Lockes are the epitome of what Habitat for Humanity is all about. These new homeowners are making it possible for others to follow in their footsteps.
Saturday’s event will be festive, family-friendly and affordable. Tickets may be purchased at the door: $5 for adults and $2.50 for children.
The day will feature singing groups, a magician, auction items, cake walks, food vendors, games, prizes, face-painting and a drawing for a cash prize.
Frankly, we love the concept — Habitat homeowners whose volunteerism is providing the same hand-up that others gave to them.
Homeowner Wesley Freeman said it best, “We have been blessed with the opportunitiy to be homeowners through Habitat. And we want others to be afforded the same.”
That’s an “Amen” in any and every corner.
Massingill pointed out the young families have taken on this mega-fundraising project for all the right reasons.
“[They] see this fundraiser as a way for them to give back to an organization that has changed their lives, and that the funds will go to continue the mission of Habitat,” she stressed.
There is no magic behind the success of Habitat for Humanity of Cleveland.
There is no secret to why this splendid nonprofit continues to make a difference in our hometown.
It’s all about people. It’s all about love. It’s all about giving back.
And volunteers do it best.