Rotary and Habitat partnership: Service above self

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DURHAM THE HERALD SUN — Blake Strayhorn, Durham Habitat for Humanity

One recent Saturday morning, Habitat site supervisors Bill Clay and Matt Lawing welcomed a group to their East Durham repairs project with a box of Monuts (if you don’t know what Monuts are, you should!) and an orientation to the day’s work.

“Many volunteers don’t know that Habitat repairs homes for about 35 elderly or disabled Durham homeowners each year, and that our repairs often let homeowners avoid eviction by making an unsafe home safe again,” explained Clay, during the Durham Habitat circle talk.  

“That’s right,” added Lawing. “Habitat repairs average $2,500 in materials, and we add you, our volunteer labor, to leverage that into repairs valued at a lot more.  We often replace rotting floors in bathrooms, repair leaky roofs, or add wheel chair ramps to make a home accessible.  But enough talk - -grab another Monuts, and let’s get to work!” 

Clay and Lawing were leading a group of Rotarians and prospective Habitat homeowners earning “sweat equity” in replacing rotting siding on a home for Ms. Walton in East Durham.  A Rotary (District 7710) Grant provided funds for Ms. Walton’s repair and four more repair jobs for Durham neighbors. The Rotary Club of Durham and the Southwest Rotary Club led the partnership, and the North Durham and Sunrise Rotary Clubs supported the effort. 

2015 is a milestone year for both Durham Habitat and the Rotary Club of Durham.  Habitat is celebrating its 30th anniversary of building homes, hope and community in Durham, and the Rotary Club of Durham is celebrating its centennial. The club is celebrating by performing 100 acts of service in the Durham community. The Habitat repairs work is one of its Acts of Service.

Another Durham Rotary Act of Service is a Habitat home the club will build in partnership with a board-approved Habitat home-buyer.  Andy Barada, a beloved physician, Rotarian and Habitat supporter who worked on six Rotary-Habitat homes, and his wife, Placide, donated half of a Habitat home sponsorship and challenged the Rotary Club of Durham to raise the remaining half.  The Club is well on the way to reaching its $50,000 goal.  Andy Barada, who recently lost a courageous battle to multiple myeloma, has left a lasting legacy by helping break the cycle of poverty for so many Durham Habitat families.

The Rotary Home in Honor of Andy and Placide Barada will be built in East Durham, just a few blocks from where Durham Habitat built its first home nearly 30 years ago. 

Rotarians end meetings by reciting the Four-Way Test of the things we think, say or do.  Rotarians who repaired Ms. Walton’s siding recently and who are partnering in our upcoming home know the Habitat Rotary partnership meets the test; our work together builds goodwill and better friendships, and there is no doubt that it is beneficial to all concerned.

Habitat salutes and celebrates its partnership with Rotary, and Rotary’s motto of “Service above Self.” We thank the Rotary Club of Durham, the Southwest Rotary Club, the North Durham and the Sunrise Rotary Clubs for their support of the Habitat Repairs program.

Service above self indeed!

Blake Strayhorn is executive director of Habitat for Humanity of Durham Inc.

If you’d like to donate to the Rotary Home in Honor of Andy and Placide Barada, please visit, or email Roxanne Hall Little at

Rotary Build






Rotarians Chad Quinn and Blake Strayhorn repair rotted siding for an elderly homeowner in East Durham.

Habitat Success Stories

“Five years ago, a tree fell on my house and caused all but one room to leak. I used all my funds, so I called Habitat for Humanity, which helped me build a new roof. I’ve never experienced anything like this in my life, and I just want to thank everyone at Habitat. God bless you!" - Rita