From now on, every time I look at Willie’s house, I’ll look at the roof first. We just finished hammering in the last shingle – "we" being members of the Orlando Habitat for Humanity. Our goal is to see that no one, anywhere, is denied the dream of having a decent house in which to live.
Willie wasn’t up there with us when we finished the roof. He was doing some carpentry work on the front of the house along with an engineer, a housewife, and a retired teacher. Macdonald and Isna were also there, and in spite of the fact that they are barely in their teens, they were contributing as much work as any of us. They will soon live in another house being built by Habitat for Humanity.
From the roof of Willie’s house, you can see the homes of his future neighbors. There aren’t many nice homes in that area. But if you look just two blocks to the east, you can see the arena, the auditorium, and the semi-opulence of the Omni Hotel. What a contrast!
Of course, Willie’s roof isn’t the only place to see such contrasts. Recently I walked through Atlanta with 600 other members of Habitat who had gathered from all over the country. On the walk, the distance from an area of sub-standard housing to Peachtree Center and the Hyatt Regency was incredibly short.
In Atlanta, I was heartened by the sight of a work project where members of Habitat built twenty houses in one week. In Orlando, I am excited by the fact that we are building four desperately needed houses. It will take time, but every nail we hammer in, every door we hang, every brush-stroke of paint we put on is making a difference.
Habitat for Humanity, an interdenominational Christian organization, uses volunteer labor, donated materials, and financial contributions to build homes for low-income families. Future homeowners work in partnership with Habitat, then buy the home at cost with the help of an interest-free loan.
Where possible, Habitat incorporates some energy efficient designs (e.g. solar water heaters), but it depends on the contribution of relevant goods and services. Herein lies an opportunity for making both a social and a technological impact where both are urgently needed. For more information, contact Habitat for Humanity, Habitat & Church Streets, Americus, GA 31709, Tel. (912) 924-6935.