From the desk of Jim Morris, President & CEO
“One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him — and he was a Samaritan.” Luke 17:15-16 (NIV)
Thanksgiving has been my favorite of the holidays in my adult life. I am that husband/dad who wants to hear around the Thanksgiving table what areas my family is thankful. Whether at the Thanksgiving table or spontaneously prompted, many of us will list similar blessings – family, health, friends, home, etc. These are all blessings that we have good reason to be thankful. I am particularly grateful as I feel I have one of the best vocations anyone could have.
I will often share that my role as president & CEO of Greater Indy Habitat for Humanity, where I help guide our team to bring our mission of seeking to put God’s love into action, by bringing people together to build homes, communities and hope into reality, is a privilege. It is a privilege to witness generosity each week. It is a privilege to visibly see neighbor loving neighbor, especially during this election year when the tail wagging the dog media tends to provide us with the worst side of humanity.
It is the “bringing people together” portion of the mission for which I am most grateful. I recently spoke to a potential new board member who asked how much volunteer labor helped us save money on building homes. While there are some cost savings, Jonathan Reckford, Chief Executive Officer Habitat for Humanity International, puts it best when he says that volunteerism is not a construction cost-reduction strategy, but a community engagement strategy. There are often more effective and efficient methods to reducing costs when building affordable housing than using volunteer labor, but community participation in bringing strength and stability to fellow “neighbors” is at the heart of what makes Habitat so necessary.
This is why the man in Luke 17:11-19 resonated with me this time of year. It’s the story of when Jesus had compassion, mercy and grace for ten lepers on the roadside, and healed each one of them. Only one man was so overwhelmed and full of thankfulness, that he took the time to share his thanks.
This year again I am humbled and resonate with the healed leper in my gratefulness. More than 8,000 volunteers from nearly 100 companies, churches and schools will help build/rehab 21 homes and provide 29 homeownership repairs for the elderly, physically unable, and/or low-income households.
My grateful posture extends to the 21 families who have worked 300+ hours each to prepare to purchase their home at 0% interest. They are truly an inspiration. Someday, we look forward to them joining the 81 households that have fully paid off their mortgage as of this year.
Our means to bringing strength, stability and independence to families is homeownership, either by providing first-time, low-income families the opportunity to purchase and own their home, or helping to preserve current homes of underprivileged families. Families in poverty realize that owning a home is not the only means to achieving their aspiration to move out of poverty. It is a huge step toward stability and asset building. Just like the healed leper still had other problems he would have to face, new Habitat homeowners have other challenges as well. I am grateful for their efforts, privileged to have my role, and truly thankful to all of you who have partnered with homebuyers and homeowners through Habitat this year. We count you as a great blessing.