November 25, 2011
"Through my international work with the Carter Center and 28 years of volunteering to build homes with Habitat for Humanity, I have seen that the best, most sustainable results are achieved when communities and families are deeply involved in orchestrating their own changes.
Jimmy Carter, former U.S. President and Habitat for Humanity volunteer
Dear Habitat for Humanity supporter,
From all of us at Habitat for Humanity, we thank you for the past support you've shown us it's most appreciated. We're asking you if it's possible to display your generosity of spirit once again.
Again, let's turn to the words of world citizen, humanitarian and former President, Jimmy Carter:
We echo the words of President Carter. Your past support has demonstrated your compassion as a partner in helping hardworking, lower-income families escape a desperate reality that no one should have to face the hopelessness, stress and related health consequences of not being able to afford rent, when it's as much as 70% of their monthly income, as well as pay for other essentials like food, hydro and heating their home.
We believe that making housing available to financially vulnerable families is the best way to help break the vicious cycle of poverty. When selecting potential partner families, we consider the applicant's willingness to become partners in the Habitat program; their ability to repay the no down payment, interest-free mortgage that's geared to their income; and, their level of need, including:
Once they have met the above criteria, we place them on our list alongside other applicant families, and we attempt to help as many families as possible. And here's where your continuing, compassionate support is crucial: Habitat for Humanity requires funds in hand to purchase land in order to begin the process of helping these families waiting for their opportunity to help themselves.
Through your support, and the support of others like you, the families who are selected into the Habitat program do help themselves, as we're not in the "hand out business. Rather, we lend a hand to people who are motivated and are already working hard. In addition to making interest-free mortgage payments based on their monthly income, partner families are required to put in 500 hours of their time building their new home and the homes of others. It's what we call "Sweat Equity, and it's more than catchy wordplay. It allows these people to accept our help with dignity and there's something really great about that.
Once more, let's heed the words of President Carter:
"Efforts that invite families into the process of improving their own lives and their own homes ensure that those individuals have the materials, assistance, and skills they need to lay all the right foundations. People sometimes just need a little help to transform their lives, and community-based efforts work best. So does creating an opportunity for people from all backgrounds to come together in a common cause to help each other; because that's exactly what happens.
When we work alongside families and play a part in helping them achieve what we consider to be a basic human right, we participate in a potentially world-changing result. Their lives aren't the only ones that change. So do ours."
Future homeowners' lives are transformed by the positive experience of working with their community, and by the many benefits that come along with homeownership the most sustainable results occur when communities and families are involved in creating their own changes, which leads to increased security for all. To see how one family benefitted from the Habitat program, please read the story below this letter.
Creating safe and affordable places to live can have incredibly positive effects on a family's health, on their children's study habits, and on a neighbourhood's overall attractiveness and stability:
Former President Carter strongly believes that safe and affordable housing not only has a positive impact on partner families, but also on the community that helped make it possible. Your much-appreciated support helps build and improve communities, one home at a time and improves lives in the process.
Just as our volunteers donate their time, time and time again, we need our generous supporters to show their kindness once again. With so many families coming face-to-face with poverty, we must continue to help families in need of affordable housing.
Your support, along with the donations of many others, does more than build homes for families in housing need you're also helping improve many communities in Canada and around the world. And that's something we can all feel good about.
Once again, thank you for your continued support. It means so much to us, our incredible volunteers, and most of all, the families who need a helping hand and the opportunity to help themselves.
President & Chief Executive Officer
Habitat for Humanity Canada
P.S. Please consider continuing your compassionate support in helping lower-income families help
themselves building hope for those who need it most, and improving communities in the process as witnessed through one family's experience included below. I thank you for your time.
1 Source: CMHC HFH Family Study.
Photo credit: Steffan Hacker (all letter images)
Helping lower-income families help themselves:
Leading to a brighter future
Read how your support offers hope through Habitat for Humanity.
Tanya and Wayne Bargen graduated with dreams of starting their careers and building a life together. But they faced a harsh reality and an uncertain future: the couple had two young children, were saddled with student debt and struggled to find permanent work in a challenging job market. Now, four years since they moved into their Habitat for Humanity home, the Bargens are making their mortgage payments while paying down their student debt and putting aside money for their future.
"This house has allowed us to take a first step forward in our lives without being overwhelmed by our debt," says Tanya. Wayne has found full-time work as a teacher and Tanya teaches music lessons from their home, which allows them to save on the added expense of childcare for their three children.
To help build hope for more hardworking, lower-income families, please consider making a donation today.
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