On September 10th of this year, I was fortunate enough to participate in a new home build with Habitat for Humanity  located in  Trinty Park,  it’s first ever planned development.  At 7am, my fellow FedEx Sales team & I rolled up our sleeves to partner with Memphis Habitat as part of my company’s commitment to build affordable homes in the Memphis area.

Since Habitat for Humanity is an international ecumenical Christian housing ministry that aims to eliminate substandard housing and make safe, healthy and affordable shelter, we started our morning by joining hands in prayer with the site leader from Habitat. Although the work was tough, the team thoroughly enjoyed the time under the leadership of construction site supervisor E. Jimmie Holmes.  Before our build actually began, Jimmie took about 20 minutes to go over construction site safety, point out the “leads” for this project, and stressed the importance of staying hydrated throughout the day.

The seasoned Habitat for Humanity volunteers were quick to tutor us on the art of framing a house as well as how to use the various power tools.  They encouraged everyone to get involved and by the end of the day we were all skilled at measuring wooden boards, raising walls into place, and assembling walls & corner posts.

“The supporters of Memphis Habitat have worked tirelessly to make Trinity Park a reality for a number of years, and we’re thrilled that day has finally arrived,” said Dwayne Spencer, executive director of Habitat for Humanity of Greater Memphis. “We are confident Trinity Park will make a positive impact not only on the lives of the homeowners, but also on the entire Memphis community.”

“Financial ratios and benchmark data may provide some insights on a nonprofit’s performance, but mission is the heart of the matter (Worth, 2009 p.130).”  The mission of Habitat for Humanity is simple – through the labor of volunteers as well as donations of money and materials, they are able to build and rehabilitate simple, decent houses with the help of the homeowner “partner” families.  “One thing nonprofit organizations do not do is distribute profits to individual owners in the form of dividends or use those profits to enhance the wealth of owners through the increasing value of the enterprise (Worth, 2009 p. 8).” Habitat for Humanity prides itself on being a hand up, not a hand out.  Homeowners must invest hundreds of hours of their own labor called “sweat equity” into building their Habitat house and the houses of others.  All Habitat houses are sold to partner families at absolutely no profit, financed with affordable, 0% interest loans. Then, the homeowners’ monthly mortgage payments are used to build more Habitat houses. Thus, the cycle of giving back continues.

The best part of this experience was the realization that I played a small part in the realization of their dreams of becoming homeowners.  To get involved in building affordable housing in your community, visit http://www.habitat.org/local to find your nearest affiliate.  Everyone who wishes to volunteer must fill out a volunteer waiver.  Habitat for Humanity keeps these waivers on file for one year, so you can volunteer as much as you would like during that one year period.  Each year volunteers need to fill out a new waiver form and turn it in at the work site on the day they volunteer.  “The roots of America’s nonprofit sector lie in the ancient traditions of charity, philanthropy, and volunteerism (Worth, 2009 p.6).” Habitat is a worldwide, grass roots movement with more than 2,100 active affiliates in 92 countries, including all 50 states of the United States, the District of Columbia, Guam and Puerto Rico (Habitat for Humanity, 2008).


Habitat for Humanity. (2008). About Us: Facts About Housing. Retrieved October 6, 2010, from Habitat for Humanity of Greater Memphis: http://www.memphishabitat.com/index.shtml

Habitat for Humanity International. (2010). Find Local Affiliates, Volunteer Opportunities, News, Events. Retrieved October 4, 2010, from Habitat for Humanity International: http://www.habitat.org/cd/local/

Worth, M. J. (2009). Nonprofit Management Principles and Practice. Thousand Oaks : SAGE.