By Jim Phelps (seen above with volunteer, Mary Sperlazza, and board member, Dina Rubino)

Ever since I told Lorraine, our Executive Director, that my wife and I would be moving to Boise, ID in early April, where I’ll take on the Development Director role with Boise Valley Habitat, I’ve had an opportunity to reflect about why Habitat for Humanity means so much to me.

It’s about you.

As someone that supports Habitat, you give this incredibly important mission fuel. Whether you are investing your time, money or, more likely, both, you ensure that the Habitat mission is given life. And that’s important – especially now.

With families facing housing and economic challenges that we haven’t seen in 40-years, the more we can do to help strengthen them the better our community becomes. The Habitat homeownership model builds our community. To many this may not seem like we’re making a dent in the problem – but, we are. Unlike other social programs that are necessary but simply address problems in the now, the Habitat model creates permanent change.

I’m constantly amazed at the commitment of our volunteers. Our construction team is undaunted: they work during the frigid cold of February and the blistering heat of August, all to ensure that a family has a safe, decent and affordable place to raise their children. The people who have a heart for ReStore, ensuring that our customers receive a top-notch experience. The people that help with events, mailings and office work – everyone is a contributor. And you all do it freely in such an unselfish way. You make a difference.

The tireless work of those serving on committees: Homeowner Selection, Homeowner Support, Fund Development and Outreach, our Board of Directors, is inspirational. In fact, having served in the nonprofit world for well over two decades, I can safely say that the Nevada County Habitat Board is the best nonprofit board I’ve ever had the pleasure to serve. Every member contributes in meaningful ways. I am proud to serve with each one of you – and this affiliate is fortunate to have each of you.

Perhaps one of the most fulfilling aspects of serving Habitat are the relationships formed with our homeowners and homebuyers. These people form the backbone of our community – working in the healthcare, service, construction and other essential industries that fuel the engine of our local economy. But, more than that, these are good, honest people who only want what we all want – an opportunity to raise their children in a safe, decent and affordable home. They simply want the opportunity to contribute to and experience the full flow of the vibrant life of our community without the oppressive fear of being a lost paycheck away from being homeless. None of them have been given anything except an opportunity. Everything else, they have earned. And their gratitude is palpable. As much as they are thankful, the gifts they have provided to me is humbling. I am grateful to them for allowing me to be part of their journey.

That’s the essence of the Habitat for Humanity model.

I know this is meaningful to the many supporters I have come to know since August 2018. This shared value of hard work and caring for our neighbors is what defines the connection we have to Habitat. It transcends politics, creeds, color, and all the other things that society has let divide us. We come together to put God’s love into action. It’s the kind of revival that every community has need for, especially as we face the challenges currently before us. We’ve found that common ground of love through this incredible movement. And it only happens because of you, the ones that give life to this movement.

Finally, and certainly not least, are the staff I’ve served with during the past four years. There is something special that happens when people come together, working day in and day out toward accomplishing a shared goal. I think it’s safe to say that we each feel like our contributions are valued, that what we are doing makes a difference. Because of the culture Lorraine has built and nurtured here, staff members are given the opportunity to be their best, to be creative, to grow. It’s this spirit that is infused into every activity we undertake that makes Nevada County Habitat the best place I’ve ever worked.

And that’s what I love about Habitat for Humanity.


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