Habitat for Humanity: Every House Is Built by Someone

“This isn’t a story about doing good,” Joyce Daugherty said of volunteering, along with husband Bob, with Habitat for Humanity (HFH). “This is really an account of our willingness to be available. It is about living by faith.”

It all started while visiting their daughter at Baylor University in Texas, where they saw a house being built on a flatbed truck. Their daughter said the students were building it in their spare time for HFH.

HFH was founded by Millard and Linda Fuller after visiting Clarence Jordan at Koinonia Farm near Americus, Georgia. During their stay, the Fullers and Jordan developed the concept of “partnership housing,” where those needing housing would work alongside volunteers to build simple but decent housing, and in 1976, HFH was born. Since then, 6.8 million people have found stability with “safe, decent and affordable shelter.”

Joyce said one of the rewards of volunteering with HFH is “knowing that our God has gone before us.” This was true when she and Bob moved to Jacksonville, Florida. Bob’s employer was a strong supporter of HFH and allowed employees time off to help with the house being built by the company, and the couple’s church, Southside Baptist, sponsored a house.

“We built each Saturday for 6 weeks,” Joyce said of the house sponsored by the church. “As first time volunteers, we were told what to do and how to complete the day’s tasks. These were enjoyable experiences.”

For the last 23 years, she and Bob have participated in more than 50 HFH home-building projects. They have been in 19 states and 8 countries from Ireland to Australia and India. Since retirement and with construction skills under their belt, their roles have changed.

“We have been construction logistic leaders organizing tools and supplies (think nails screws, lumber, and all the materials and supplies required to build a house) for builds of 25 to 150 houses,” Joyce said.

Besides building new homes, HFH also helps with disaster recovery and improving existing homes. Currently Bob and Joyce have been asked to organize volunteers for HFH’s disaster response, since they served in New Jersey after Superstorm Sandy in 2012 helping homeowners who needed help restoring/repairing their homes.

However, Joyce emphatically said, “Our title remains ‘volunteers.’”

Of course, not everyone has the skill or the desire to hammer nails. Visit habitat.org to discover more ways to volunteer with and how to support your local HFH affiliate.

Joyce and Bob said what is most rewarding is seeing hope in the new homeowner’s face, seeing children in stable homes, and seeing strengthened communities.

“We provide ‘not a handout, but a hand up,’” Joyce said. “We are able to put our faith into action.”

“Now every house is built by someone, but the One who built everything is God” (Heb. 3:4 HCSB).


Janice Backer is a freelance writer living in Jefferson City, Tennessee.

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