That was the consensus when I visited Greater Manchester Habitat for Humanity’s build site at 50 Hosley Street in Manchester. That would seem like an odd thing to say when you ponder on Habitat for Humanity’s mission in general. Aren’t they supposed to be building houses?
The Greater Manchester Habitat for Humanity will celebrate 20 years of serving the greater Manchester community this fall. That is two decades of helping your neighbor build a better future. But what is Habitat for Humanity? What do they do and whom do they serve?
When I first mentioned that I was helping out at Habitat to my family, I got some varied responses. The best was this:
“Habitat for Humanity? I thought that was something you had to go on vacation to do in New Orleans. We have Habitat up here?”
So I feel like getting a megaphone and standing on top of the Brady Sullivan tower to let everyone know what incredible things are happening in their own neighborhood. And why?
Because you are missing out on all the fun.
The Greater Manchester Habitat for Humanity was declared an affiliate of Habitat for Humanity International in 1992 and has been moving strong ever since. So who are they? They are you, and they are me. They are everyone. They are not specialized contractors with thirty years of experience on the job site. They are a couple of high school girls who have been volunteering for years, and when they heard about working at the Greater Manchester Habitat for Humanity build site, they decided to check that out, too. They are a twenty something year old, newly arrived in Manchester, and checking out the build because he used to help out at the affiliate of the previous town he had lived in. They are a couple of old buds trying to figure out the best way to rip up some old floorboards.
The Greater Manchester Habitat for Humanity has built six houses and supported twelve other projects in the past twenty years. And they don’t just serve Manchester. The Greater Manchester affiliate of Habitat for Humanity provides support to the fellow communities of Auburn, Bedford, Candia, Derry, Hooksett, Litchfield, and Londonderry. Habitat for Humanity offers a hand up, not a hand out. The families that move into Habitat houses put in their own hours of sweat and endurance to build themselves a better future. And in the end, they have a home that they can call their own because they helped build it.
But it’s not all about the houses. In Habitat’s quaint office in one of the old brick buildings of the millyard, a team of dedicated people push the paper, make the phone calls and send the emails to make home building happen. So if you can’t swing a hammer, you can think about constructing an email to bring in volunteers or create a mailing to send to potential builders of a home.
But what I learned at 50 Hosley Street was not that a home was being built. But that things had to change, so a better future could come from the ashes. I learned that sometimes destroying something was the first step to building someone a home, improving a neighborhood and simply having a good time.