In this issue of Habitat World, you are going to see a lot of circles — circles that represent communities of compassion and hope. On the following pages, you’ll meet individuals and groups who have joined Habitat for Humanity’s global band of supporters to help those in need of adequate shelter. You’ll see how our response to Superstorm Sandy convinced one volunteer that “what we really are is a huge circle of friends helping each other.” You’ll be reminded that Habitat brings together diverse partners in the common cause of improving the lives of others.
The image of circles also reminds us of one of the great blessings of Habitat — the ripple effect of one positive action leading to another and then another. I hope you will be inspired by the stories of two revitalized communities in the U.S. where great ideas gained momentum and led to transformation.
I have visited one of those communities — the Cherry Street area of Winston-Salem, North Carolina — and have seen the amazing results. I have also witnessed how the positive changes affected not only the residents, but all those who joined in the effort. A police officer named Billy is a perfect example. Billy was a volunteer for the project who gave me a tour of the area. He told me if I had walked through the same streets two years before, he would have been assigned to protect me. With a grand sweep of his hand, he proclaimed, “Look at what we have done.” He felt pride and ownership in the neighborhood.
The successful revitalization of Winston-Salem’s Cherry Street community gave local leaders the confidence and motivation to think bigger and expand the area slated for revitalization.
Imagine that kind of ripple effect worldwide. American poet Edwin Markham wrote a classic poem about drawing people in by surrounding them with a circle of love. Can you envision the Habitat circle growing wider and wider to include family after family, block after block, community after community — taking them all in until everyone has a decent place to live?
We work toward that goal every day. We can’t do it alone, however. The stories in this issue emphasize how crucial it is to engage people from many circles — from all sectors of society — to build homes, communities and hope. Thank you for inviting people into the circle of God’s love. You may never know the ongoing impact of your efforts and God’s blessings.