Going Local: Make a House a 'Home' this Fall with Habitat for Humanity

Date Posted: 9/26/2013

Churches across the greater Houston area can help break the cycle of poverty by volunteering time to build houses this fall with Habitat for Humanity. Consider putting a team together or joining an existing team of United Methodists engaged in meaningful local missions. 


A home is more significant than most of us realize. Several years ago, at a Habitat home dedication, when a young boy standing in the living room of his new home was asked which bedroom was going to be his, he ran to a bedroom and then into the closet and stood with a big smile on his face.

The volunteers who had followed him were a little puzzled by his standing in the closet.


Upon entering the room, his big brother stated, “My brother doesn’t get it yet. We have been sharing a closet for the last two years, so he does not realize we now have the whole room.”


This fall, United Methodists have the opportunity to partner with Houston Habitat for Humanity (HHFH) to help break the cycle of poverty by building affordable homes for low income families. “The ripple effect of a home is incredible,” says Rev. Diane McGehee, Director of the TAC Center for Missional Excellence. “Without affordable accommodations, low income families move from place to place wherever rent is cheapest, sometimes substandard and often poorly maintained.  When we give one day to help build these homes, we can interrupt the cycle of poverty that would typically be compounded by an increase in health problems, safety concerns, and rising educational dropout rates.”


If I Had a Hammer

Placing the spotlight on local missions, the Texas Annual Conference staff will lead by example later this year by assisting in the construction of several homes in the Houston area. Meanwhile, TAC missional leaders are looking for volunteers from churches throughout the greater Houston area to help build Habitat houses in October and November.  The goal: Identifying 10 volunteers from a church or from a group of churches who can come for one day and volunteer their time.  Adds Diane, “Construction provides an easy entry point for people to enter into missions.  What excites me about Habitat is that the construction is just one piece of constructing a better life for families. That, in turn, empowers the whole family and impacts not only economics, but education and family stability.” 


·         Karen Dorris reports that First UMC, Beaumont builds a Habitat House every year as part of what is called "The Apostle's Build."  In Beaumont, 12 churches join together to fund and provide labor for the house.  “It is indeed a wonderful program,” she says, “and we are delighted to participate as a way of living out our mission statement - FUMC: in the heart of the city to love the city with the heart of Christ.  I really think encouraging churches to be part of Habitat in their local communities is ideal.”


·         Missions Coordinator Alice King with St. Luke’s UMC, Houston adds, “We will be having an All Church Community Workday on Oct. 27 and are thrilled to be doing a wall build for Habitat on our parking lot at that time.  This involves building 20 interior walls for a home.  We are very excited to be partnering with this great organization!”


·         “Our church is committed to begin building a Habitat house with Montgomery County Habitat for Humanity in November or December.  We are partnering with Strawbridge UMC for our build,” adds Nancy Heintz, Director of Missions/Community Outreach for First UMC, Conroe.



·         “Add us to the list of Habitat builders,” says The Woodlands UMC Associate Pastor and Missions Chair John Hull. “We build a Habitat house every year and coincidentally, we start this year's build in October.”


·         Renee Teel reports, “Christ UMC, Sugar Land is sponsoring our 13th Habitat home and we began building this month. If someone is looking for a home to build in the Fort Bend County area, the link for signing up is: http://www.cumcsl.org/ministries/missions/habitat-for-humanity/ and here's a neat video http://cumchabitat2012.weebly.com/ .



Houston Area Volunteers Can Sign Up Now

“At the Habitat office we have recently heard from Westminster UMC, First Methodist Houston, St Luke’s UMC, Memorial Drive UMC and St. Peter’s UMC,” says Jerry Kovaly. “We need to let the churches know to contact me as soon as possible so I can put them on the schedule.  We only have so many spots each day, so a quick call will ensure volunteers will have a wonderful experience.” 


To help break the cycle of poverty by volunteering a day of your time to build the next set of houses this fall, contact Houston Habitat for Humanity Corry Bell (cbell@houstonhabitat.org), Lauren Ramsey (lramsey@houstonhabitat.org) or Jerry Kovaly (jkovaly@houstonhabitat.org) or 281-850-7780 for more details.


A Unique Addition to Home Building

Lay Delegate Bonnie Magid encourages churches with a sewing ministry to make a quilt for the new family moving into a Habitat Home. “My quilt guild, the Livingston Piece-makers, presents each family with a quilt and the families just love them,” she says. “Hopefully these families feel extra special and keep Methodists in mind for years to come!”