Southwest Louisiana is fortunate to have a large number of charitable organizations that touch the lives of many residents in the community. One of them is Habitat for Humanity; their mission is seeking to put God’s love into action, bringing people together to build homes, communities and hope.
The Calcasieu Area Affiliate of Habitat for Humanity was established over 20 years ago and since that time they have provided over 135 deserving families with a decent place to live. Prior to moving into a Habitat for Humanity home, most partner families lived with other family members or in substandard rental housing. In an interview with Leonard Knapp, Executive Director with Habitat for Humanity Calcasieu Area Inc., he explained that the homes built by Habitat for Humanity are not given away; the partner family earns them.
“Habitat is not a government organization. We are a Christian housing ministry. We seek families who are willing to partner with us while we build or rehabilitate their homes,” Knapp said.
Every partner family is required to provide 300 hours of sweat equity, hours spent contributing to the build of their home alongside other volunteers. The family also agrees to pay back the cost of building the home through a 25-year interest free mortgage.
“That is what makes it affordable for the family. The money is reinvested in building homes for other families. The family is thus working to build a place in our community, we are simply providing them a hand up to do that,” Knapp explained.
The local affiliate built six homes in 2014 and has plans to build ten in 2015. One reason why the organization is successful is the support it receives from sponsors and volunteers. One of the annual sponsored build projects is the Lowe’s Women’s Build that encourages women in the community to participate in building a home. Another annual sponsored build is the Faith Build; in 2014 fifteen churches participated in the building of a home. When Knapp was asked what were some of the personal rewards he has received as a volunteer with the organization.
He said, “I continue to feel that I am doing the Lord’s work when Habitat hands the keys to a home to a family that never expected to be able to afford a home of their own.”
The vision of Habitat for Humanity is a world where everyone has a decent place to live. It is an ambitious goal but is being accomplished one home at a time by the dedicated volunteers of Habitat for Humanity Calcasieu Area. 2014 Faith Build home under construction Photo courtesy of Habitat for Humanity Volunteers participating in 2013 Faith Build Photo Courtesy of Habitat for Humanity