The faces of Durham Habitat

Posted |

Durham Herald-Sun
By Blake Strayhorn, executive director Durham Habitat 

At its heart, Durham Habitat is about people.  People serving people and our community.   Founded on Christian values in 1985, Durham Habitat partners with those who share our ideals of love, respect, compassion and justice for all.  We welcome those of any faith -- or no faith -- to join us in building homes, hope and community in Durham. 

Habitat finishes its fiscal year Monday. June 30.  This year, we served 78 families through our home-ownership and critical repairs programs.  That’s 78 hard-working families who are breaking the cycle of poverty for their children and future generations through their investment in owning their homes.

Durham Habitat’s strength is in the partnerships built among home-buying families, financial sponsors and the 8,000 volunteers per year who build homes.  These partnerships include many who individually and collectively make our community better through their service. 

I’m often overwhelmed by the selflessness of so many in the Durham Habitat community, and I sometimes wonder why people give so much.  I always answer my question the same way.  People give their time, talent and treasure because of AJ and Jayden and Tyshawn and hundreds of other children whose future is brighter because their parents worked so hard to buy their Habitat homes. 

I’m convinced the Durham Habitat community reflects the best of humanity.   Durham Habitat shows us what society can and should look like.  For people of faith, Durham Habitat offers a way to put faith into action, to serve as we are taught by our spiritual leaders.  I personally believe the Habitat community provides an example of what heaven may look like.  People working their way out of poverty bang nails alongside people of means.   Muslims, Jews and Christians work together on social justice issues all faiths care deeply about.   Republicans and Democrats -- even Duke and Carolina fans!  -- work side-by- side.

People of all walks of life come together to work on our common problem of substandard housing, and they get to know each other in the process.  We realize people have so much in common and together we can achieve so much. 

Screenwriter and director Randall Wallace, who wrote “Braveheart,” among other films, said, "Habitat for Humanity is a perpetual-motion miracle.  Everyone who receives, gives -- and everyone who gives, receives. If you want to stay complacent and uninspired, stay away from Habitat!  Come close to Habitat and it will change you and make you a part of something that changes the world." 

Many thanks to our Durham Habitat community for our partnership and accomplishments this year.   There is much still to do and we need your help.   Join us!

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

Habitat Success Stories

Alicia partnered with the Catholic Coalition to build a Habitat home in Southwest Central Durham. Alicia enjoyed working more than 250 hours of sweat equity on her home, saying "I know every beam in my house."