For some Americans, the compulsion to serve their neighbors never goes away. We just found a story about a an Army veteran who left a very generous estate to Habitat for Humanity. You will be so inspired when you hear this story.
Sergeant 1st Class Stephan Florents was born in the tenements of New York City. He served with distinction during the Vietnam War, earning a Purple Heart, and continued to serve in the Middle East.
The place he always called home however was Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. It was here that he purchased his first home. And when he passed away this past December, he left more than two and a quarter million dollars to the Central Oklahoma chapter of Habitat for Humanity.
His will specified that the money be used to build twenty four new homes for low income families in need.
Ann Felton Gilliland, CEO for the organization, said “It’s a life-changing experience for our families. Because most of them are living in apartment houses that are in unsafe areas, where their children aren’t able to ride their bicycles or even play in the front yard.”
Habitat for Humanity International was founded in 1976. Its mission has been “devoted to building ‘simple, decent, and affordable’ housing, a self-described ‘Christian housing ministry,’ and has addressed the issues of poverty housing all over the world.” Their headquarters are located in Americus, Georgia and they maintain operations in the United States, Canada, Africa and the Middle East, Europe and Central Asia, The Asian Pacific, and Latin America and the Caribbean.
Local chapters, or affiliates, work with the larger agency to build homes for the poor. The homes are built with volunteer labor and are sold at cost to qualified families. The organization is a non profit agency. Since its founding, they have helped more than four million people construct or preserve more than eight hundred thousand homes.
According to the Habitat For Humanity website “The affiliate’s family selection committee chooses homeowners based on their level of need, their willingness to become partners in the program and their ability to repay the loan. Every affiliate follows a nondiscriminatory policy of family selection. Neither race nor religion is a factor in choosing the families who receive Habitat houses.”
Families are also required to put about five hundred hours in sweat equity into the project, which also fosters a greater sense of ownership.
Many well known Americans are avid supporters of Habitat For Humanity including President Jimmy Carter and First Lady Rosalynn Carter, and rockstar Jon Bon Jovi, who even used a building project that his band was a part of as the backdrop for the video to his song “Who Says You Can’t Go Home.” Rock bands Reliant K and Switchfoot partnered with Habitat for Humanity for their “Appetite for Construction” tour, which raised more than one hundred thousand dollars for the organization.
Today, Habitat For Humanity is the largest nonprofit homebuilder in the world, thanks to the donations of time, talent and resources of people like Sergeant 1st Class Stephan Florents.
Have you ever helped out on a Habitat For Humanity building project? What charities do you plan to support in your will? Please share your thoughts with us here.