Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Habitat For Humanity

The Paul Harris Award to

Jim Furler

Thursday October 28 2010

Well it is over! I have seen it ! I have been part of it.The annual Ed Schreyer Work Project  2000.Ten houses were built in Windsor Ontario in one week, July 16 to 21,2000.  
            Mind you they weren’t quite all finished,but on Monday when we started ,fourty people plus,gathered around each house site and started to erect prefabricated walls,put up the rafters,put on the sheating and start roofing, It was a hot day.We drank lots of water,enjoyed a large box lunch at noon,ate a hearty meal at night and were ready for a good sleep because the next day started at 6.00am.We were bussed to the site at 7 ,had announcements and devotion and were ready to start building again by 8:00.
            That was the hectic work schedule.As the schedule fell behind volunteers were asked if they could come back after supper and work till dark.
            Friday at 3:30 the ten houses were dedicated.The new owners and their families stood on the porches and ribbons were cut.It was a happy moment.The families had worked alongside their house volunteers all week.New friendships had been made.Here now was a real home—brand new—completely finished on the outside with siding and roofing,windows and doors in place.The green grass was there with new young trees planted and shrubbery and flowers.
            What a miracle ! What an accomplishment ! Hundreds of people working together over a week sharing their skills,cooperating--,seeing a job that needed to be done and doing it.Besides all the Windsor people, volunteers had come from all over Canada and the United States.Many grade nine students helped with the lunches.There were college students,retirees—people from all walks of life present.I met a man from Sault Saint Marie.He was there with his granddaughter. A man and his wife from Albany were there with their grandson from South Carolina. They had helped on many builds.
            At noon while we ate our lunches, which were donated by a different organization every day,announcements were given,sponsors recognized,and entertainment provided—from an opera singer ( who was helping on the build)to skilled Irish dancers.
            What a lot of organizing and planning must have gone into this great project! What a lot of volunteering!
            One of the highlights of the whole experience for me was hearing Millard Fuller and his wife Linda, the founders of Habitat for Humanity, speak at the orientation meeting Sunday July 16.
            Ed Schreyer also spoke and shared his enthusiasm for the work of Habitat for Humanity.Last year the Ed Schreyer Work Project was in Halifax,the year before in Newfoundland. People helping people get a simple decent place to live.
By the end of summer over 100 000 houses had been built by Habitat for Humanity International .A new house is being built somewhere in the world every 30 minutes.
            I wrote this   ten years ago when I returned from Windsor and pasted the account in my souvenir book called Grandpa’s Hammer.There is a picture here too of the Cobbler Family and the fourty volunteers who helped build them a house.On the back cover of the book is written ….
            Shelter is one of life’s most basic needs.When families experience the protection,warmth and safety that adequate housing supplies,life changes and the cycle of poverty ,despair,and hopelessness breaks.
            Habitat for Humanity International is a nonprofit,ecumenical Christian housing ministry dedicated to eliminating poverty housing and homelessness from the earth.Habitat works in partnership with people everywhere to develop communities with God’s people in need by building and renovating houses,so that  there are decent houses in decent communities where people can live and grow into all that God intended.
            Jim Furler was on this build with me .He was working on another house.
Each year there is a week’s build somewhere in Canada called The Ed Schreyer Work Project. Jim has been on a number of them—in Regina—Halifax—Winnipeg—and Ottawa.
            Jim and I have been on the Board for Habitat For Humanity Niagara.We have been on the Building Committee,The Site Selection Committee and The property Committee. We were building one house a year.We have helped build 4 houses in St.Catharines,--3 in Wellend and 1 in Simcoe where the local Rotary Club was the main sponsor and builders.  Jim has continued working with Habitat.
            Habitat For Humanity Canada was founded in 1985 and built its first house in  Winkler, Winnipeg.It has grown to where it has over 35000 volunteers.The Head Office is in Waterloo Ontario.There are 73 affiliates like Habitat For Humanity Niagara covering all areas of Canada. This year the 1800th home was built.
            The first ReStore was opened in Canada in 1991. Now there are 61 in the country and over 84000 tons of waste has been diverted from landfill sites and been recycled and used by the general public.The money earned from the ReStores has helped to build many Habitat homes.
            The Global Village Programme was started in Canada in 2005.This is where a team of people from Canada volunteer to go to other countries and work with other volunteers coming from other countries to help build Habitat Houses.
To date more than 4300 participants from Canada have travelled to more than 30 countries to help build over 1000 homes. Habitat For Humanity Canada now sends the most volunteers per capita in the world on Global Village Trips. Jim Furler has now been on 6 of these trips The last was in 2009 to Vietnam.
            I mentioned that Habitat For Humanity International had built 100 000 houses-- by the year 2000 --,a new house being built somewhere in the world every 30 minutes.Now HFHI is working in 93 countries and has built 225 000 homes.There is now a new home built somewhere in the world every 21 minutes.
            How does Habitat do this ? It must take a lot of volunteers and money. Many individuals contribute and many large corporations. I will mention just a few.
            Home Depot--- This corporation has become a strong partnership with HFHCanada.It has donated much product from its stores. The Home Depot’s volunteer force of associates has put in numerous volunteer hours from coast to coast in Canada over the years, rolling up their sleeves to swing a hammer and help build homes and hope.
            Microsoft---It is their belief that when technology meets passionate people the potential to make a difference in the world is unlimited. The headline from the article I read was—Building Futures through Technology—Microsoft software donation—helps Habitat reach full potential--   As the world’s largest software company, Microsoft has the capacity to help improve the lives of people everywhere.Through an Unlimited Potential Software Grant HFHCanada has received in excess of 1.3 million dollars worth of software and licenses for its 73 affiliates across Canada.
            This generous donation of software will allow Habitat affiliates to improve their productivity,increase their ability to collaborate and be more effective,and extend their impact.—Whether  fundraising,securing permits,managing sites--,selecting partner families--,administering mortages or keeping tract of volunteers, this donation allows affiliates to maximaze their time and reach their full potential to serve even more families in need.
Genworth Financial Canada-- this-corporation—created a contest that empowers children to build a house with words.   The contest invites children in grades  4.5 and 6 to use their own words to describe what home means to them. Kyle Dingle of St. John’s Newfoundland was the winner of the third annual  Meaning of Home national writing contest in 2009. Kyle was able to chose which community would receive a $ 60 000 donation from Genworth towards the building of a new Habitat for Humanity home. ----Here is his  essay:  It is heartwarming..
            What is a house?What is a Home? There is a big difference let me tell you.
A house is just a wooden structure put together by nails and wood.Who really cares about nails and wood.Not me,but if I did not have a house-- like a lot of families-- I probably would--,especially when that house becomes a home! A home is a place where you feel warm and cozy.You have things around you that are special and have meaning,but most of all you are surrounded by people you love and who love you.A family makes a house a home by living in it and making it special.
            There are many,too many families in the world without a home,they don’t even have a house to live in.Many years ago a programme called Habitat For Humanity was started to help these families.They build houses all over the world for deserving needy families.The family along with dozens of volunteers get together for a few days and build a house.When the family moves in they make it a home.It is even happening here—literally-- right in our back yards.On my street a habitat house is being built right now.In Mount Pearl this past summer a lucky family got to build their new home.It is hard to believe --until one day you see an empty lot and just a few days later-- a house soon to be a home is in its place.It is mindboggling-- I can’t wait to see the family that moves in up the street-- and I hope they are happy now they have a home…….a house is just a house until a family makes it a home.
            John Bell   written up in an article in the Habitat Spirit newsletter—says-- he got a case of “ habititus” which has changed his life. He now has been building for many years. I expect it is the same with Jim Furler. John says the building techniques and temperatures vary greatly between the builds here in Canada and other countries but the experience—is similar…”Ultimately we’re helping to improve the community,helping a family have a house.Its an amazing feeling”
            In closing we simply want to thank people like Jim who become dedicated to the--Habitat For Humanity cause --and who volunteer and give of their time,their talent and skills-- at considerable cost to themselves --to help others in need….to give a hand up…and a lasting change to a family and their lives.
            I am happy to be here tonight-- to enjoy this dinner-- and to see Jim receive recognition and thanks-- in his home community-- for the work he does..This Paul Harris Award --given by Rotary at Noon-- is indeed an honour to receive.
            Jim has certainly travelled far and wide in support of Habitat . This year he went to Anchorage Alaska in June for 3 and ½ months -- and he hasn’t been long back from Birmingham- Alabama-- where he helped on this year’s Jimmy Carter Work Project--.While doing all  this--he has enjoyed experiences and adventures--,been introduced to new foods and culture-- and I am sure --has many memories from locations throughout the world. I hope he will be able to share some of these experiences with others-- who may too-- become excited and bitten with the “Habititus “ bug. Habitat For Humanity can always use more volunteers.

No comments:

Post a Comment