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Habitat for Humanity. From the beginning
The 2019 London Christian Prayer Breakfast
“An unseen Hope made the Red Sea Road where there is no other way”
Getting Connected on the Opioid Crisis – A Free In-Studio and Livestream Event
London Area Right to Life Newly Elected President - Jeffrey Belanger
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Videos of the 2019 Prayers for London
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Experience Another World Without Leaving Yours

Christian Life in London has featured a number of articles about Habitat for Humanity Heartland Ontario over these years. While these articles posted high readership, many ask about the history of Habitat for Humanity.

In this edition we take you all the way back to the beginning, actually before the official beginning.

The concept that grew into Habitat for Humanity International was born at Koinonia Farm, a small, interracial, Christian community outside of Americus, Georgia. Koinonia Farm was founded in 1942 by farmer and biblical scholar Clarence Jordan.

Millard and Linda Fuller, the two founders of Habitat for Humanity International first visited Koinonia in 1965. They had recently left a successful business and an affluent lifestyle in Montgomery, Alabama to begin a new life of Christian service.

At Koinonia, Jordan and Fuller developed the concept of “partnership housing.” The concept centered on those in need of adequate shelter working side by side with volunteers to build simple, decent houses.

Fast-forward to 1976, Expansion into Habitat for Humanity International.

In September 1976, Millard and Linda called together a group of supporters to discuss the future of their dream. Habitat for Humanity International as an organization was born at this meeting. The eight years that followed, vividly described in Millard Fuller’s book, “Love in the Mortar Joints,” proved that the vision of a housing ministry was workable. Faith, hard work and direction set HFHI on its successful course.

Phenomenal growth

In 1984, former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and his wife Rosalynn took their first Habitat work trip, the Jimmy Carter Work Project, to New York City. Their personal involvement in Habitat’s ministry brought the organization national visibility and sparked interest in Habitat’s work across the nation. HFHI experienced a dramatic increase in the number of new affiliates around the country.

Today there are more than 1,400 local affiliates in the United States and more than 70 national organizations around the world. Together, Habitat for Humanity has helped 6.8 million people improve their living conditions since the founding in 1976.

Habitat for Humanity comes to Canada

In 1985, the movement spread to Canada with the first Canadian build in Winkler, Manitoba. Two years later, Winnipeg became home to the first Canadian affiliate.

In 1990 Habitat for Humanity Canada head office was established in Waterloo, Ontario

The leadership team at Habitat for Humanity Canada is made up of dedicated people living the organization’s mission in everything they do.

Mark Rodgers, the President and CEO has been involved with Habitat for Humanity for almost 16 years in various capacities – first working as the Director of Development at Habitat for Humanity Waterloo and then as Executive Director for Habitat for Humanity Brant.

In 2006, he moved to the National Office as Vice President, Affiliate services, and was promoted to COO before embracing the role of President and CEO in 2014. He has been responsible for creating and implementing a national vision for the charity. He is also leading a federation strategic direction to support Habitat for Humanity’s 56 affiliates in Canada.

He also serves on the Board of Directors of the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) and on the Advisory Council of Imagine Canada. His personal life motto is captured in the simple statement: Live to make a difference.

Habitat for Humanity in Canada has grown to 56 affiliates in 10 provinces and three territories and has successfully provided over 2,800 families with safe, decent and affordable housing.

In 2015 Habitat for Humanity Canada had revenue of $26.8 million with more than 60% coming from donations. 14.5 million was transferred to the provincial affiliates. Click HERE for the 2015 Annual Report

Habitat for Humanity comes to London

Habitat for Humanity Heartland was established in 1993 striving to fulfill the same mission of all affiliated worldwide: To mobilize volunteers and community partners in providing opportunities for homeownership as a means of breaking the cycle of poverty.

What the poor need is not charity but capital, not caseworkers but co-workers. And what the rich need is a wise, honorable and just way of divesting themselves of their overabundance. The Fund for Humanity will meet both of these needs. Money for the fund will come from shared gifts by those who feel they have more than they need and from non-interest bearing loans from those who cannot afford to make a gift but who do want to provide working capital for the disinherited . . . The fund will give away no money. It is not a handout.

The London affiliate of the non-profit, non-denominational Christian housing organization has its offices in their Pacific Court Re-Store location. This one of 5 ReStores owned and operated by Habitat for Humanity Heartland.

So what’s a ReStore?

The ReStores shelves are stocked with new and gently used renovation supplies donated by homeowners and businesses. Everything is available at seriously discounted prices.

Because they constantly receive new inventory from a variety of generous supporters, every trip to the ReStore offers a unique opportunity to discover a fantastic deal, a one-of-a-kind item, or the missing piece in your design inspiration.

The money raised from the sale of items at the ReStores pays for the overhead costs of operating Habitat for Humanity Heartland Ontario.

By covering their own costs, they are able to keep the promise that every dollar donated to Habitat for Humanity will go directly towards building homes for families in need.

“Ground Breaking News” from from Habitat for Humanity Heartland Ontario!

In Mid September Habitat for Humanity Heartland Ontario announced it has partnered with the Robitaille family and the Solomon family with the ground breaking on two homes at 16 and 18 Forbes Street on September 23rd

“I am more convinced every day of the lasting impact of building affordable homes. Families thrive in safe decent surroundings. Children are healthier, happier and often able to achieve higher levels of education. We’ve completed 62 homes in our Heartland region so far and are thrilled to help two more families achieve their dreams in Manor Park,” said Linda Armstrong – Interim CEO, Habitat for Humanity, Heartland Ontario.

The Robitaille family, Juan Jose, Michelle, their daughter Juliette, three years old, and their son Joseph Mitchel, 7 months old, live in a townhouse with Michelle's mother and sisters where the four of them share one bedroom. Michelle works from home in the afternoons and Juan Jose has almost completed school with Boreal ESL (English Lessons). He attends school in the mornings so Michelle and Juan are able to share taking care of their children through the day. As a family, they love going to the park and watching movies, but most important for the family is just spending time together.

The Genworth support came through their annual Meaning of Home contest encouraging grade 4, 5 and 6 students to write an essay or poem about what home means to them. In this national contest, London student John Latosinsky won first prize allowing him to allocate $50,000 to the Habitat(s) of his choice. John chose to honour Habitat Heartland with $25,000 and to give the other $25,000 to a Habitat Indigenous Build program.

"The Genworth Canada Meaning of Hope contest in support of Habitat for Humanity helped make this day possible for the lucky family receiving the gift of a home. John's contest entry made it possible for us to be here to celebrate and we are thrilled to be a part of this special day", said Anita Booth - Director of Marketing & Community Relations, Genworth Canada.

The Solomon family has received support from Scotiabank. Three-year-old Mohammad Solomon said, “My dad took us to see a new building, he said it was a house being built by Habitat for Humanity. My dad said that Habitat for Humanity and their helpers and our family would work together to build a house for our family. My dad said the day they told him this was one of his happiest days.” The public is invited to come out and celebrate with the Habitat partner families.

Another Habitat for Humanity success story in the works right here in London and all started when Millard and Linda Fuller had the vision 51 years ago.

Since its beginning, Habitat for Humanity International has built, rehabilitated, repaired or improved more than 600,000 houses worldwide – providing shelter for more than 6.8 million people.

For more of the Habitat for Humanity story and how you can help out click HERE.