Habitat for Humanity's origin in Americus - WRBL

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Habitat for Humanity's origin in Americus

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Former President Jimmy Carter and his wife Rosalynn work on a Habitat house Former President Jimmy Carter and his wife Rosalynn work on a Habitat house
AMERICUS, Ga. -

You may not have known that the late Millard Fuller started Habitat for Humanity in Americus 37 years ago. Now the organization has grown to help over 600,000 families build homes all over the world.

In 1976, Millard Fuller realized his dream, a Christian housing ministry to assist those in need. Along with his wife Linda and a group of supporters, Habitat for Humanity International was born.

"He wanted to help people have a home," says Habitat's Director of Corporate Services Sybil Carter. "It's as important to have a decent home as having food, having good health care and education, all of those things, but a home embodies all of that."

Homes had already started being built in Americus and Zaire with no-profit and no-interest mortgages for families. In 1984 President Jimmy Carter and his wife Rosalynn brought national attention to the organization when they traveled to New York City for the Jimmy Carter Work Project. Every year since then the Carters implement their project in cities around the world.

They've helped inspire thousands of volunteers to join in the mission, like HR administrator Cynthia Jenkins who has worked with Habitat for 27 years. "I've always loved to help people," she says, "and just knowing that I played a part in somebody's life, especially when you meet people that you've never seen before and then you're like, 'Wow, I've helped a stranger,' and they really, really appreciate it."

Despite the immense growth the organization has seen, it still retains the values originally set by its founding members. "Our whole mission is to help people that are in need all over the world," says Jenkins. "Even though we have different affiliates everywhere, we all have one goal, and that's to help people in need."

Corporate and individual donors help provide materials for the homes, while the home recipients themselves work side-by-side with volunteers.

Carter says, "In a lot of the other countries they can't conceive of the fact that somebody would come out and help build a home for nothing, that you just want to volunteer and you want to help someone."

There are many ways to get involved with Habitat for Humanity, right in your hometown and countries worldwide. For more information, visit http://www.habitat.org/.

Jessi Mitchell

Jessi joined the WRBL news team in October 2012 after working as a freelance production assistant for MTV Networks in Los Angeles.
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