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Habitat awarded $1.4 million to engage Baby Boomers

Corporation for National and Community Service awards
Habitat for Humanity $1.4 million grant to engage Baby Boomers

AMERICUS, Ga. (Dec. 12, 2005) – The Corporation for National and Community Service has awarded Habitat for Humanity a $1.4 million challenge grant to help ensure the organization continues to harness the power and passion of America’s Baby Boomers in its work with families in need.

The grant was announced today at the kick-off of a public service awareness campaign to encourage the nation’s 77 million Baby Boomers to get involved in volunteer service during a White House Conference on Aging.

“This grant will help Habitat build and expand the infrastructure needed to manage the overwhelming number of volunteers who wish to help our response to hurricanes Katrina and Rita, which we call Operation Home Delivery,” said Kathleen Dennis, Habitat’s director of national service. “This opportunity also builds on Habitat’s successful history as the nation’s largest recipient of NCCS funding.”

Baby Boomers – those born between 1946 and 1966 – make up 35 percent of the U.S. population. They have affected every aspect of America’s way of life and, now, as they approach retirement, represent an untapped market of potential volunteers.

“Habitat for Humanity is a volunteer driven organization, so we have always been blessed with volunteers – Boomers, X and Y Generationers, people of all ages and backgrounds,” said Jonathan Reckford, Habitat’s chief executive officer. “This grant will provide us yet another opportunity to engage people to be a part of the solution to the devastating effects of Katrina and Rita, but also to get engaged in our pursuit of a simple, decent home for families in need everywhere as well.”

Habitat will use the grant, said Dennis, to help establish a means to engage and retain Baby Boomer volunteer leadership. A significant number of Habitat’s traditional volunteers and supporters are now in their late 60s and 70s, and are leaving the volunteer ranks, increasing the need for Habitat for Humanity to find their replacements.

The grant will also be used to establish a Disaster Corps Project, said Mario Flores, director of Habitat’s Disaster Response Office, which will help fill an imminent need for a trained corps of volunteers to implement Habitat for Humanity’s disaster response, recovery and reconstruction efforts in Alabama, Mississippi, Texas, Florida and Louisiana. The corps will provide support for local Habitat affiliates by deploying Baby Boomer volunteer leadership and facilitating accelerated affiliation processes where there is no existing Habitat presence.

With this, when a disaster strikes, Habitat will already have a recovery plan developed that is suited to the particular needs of the disaster affected families. Habitat will be able to provide not only timely recovery strategies but also to launch mitigation and preparedness initiatives and services.

Habitat for Humanity Disaster Corps will be a joint effort between several HFHI departments and external stakeholders such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Red Cross, The Sphere Project and the University of Maryland Center on Aging.

Specifically, the goals of the grant will be to:
• Strengthen Habitat infrastructure and build organizational capacity to ensure effective volunteer services and program delivery in responding to natural and man-made disasters.
• Design and launch innovative, creative marketing Campaign/Recruitment Strategy aimed at attracting Baby Boomer volunteers to support HFHI and its affiliate partners.
• Recruit, train and manage 500 “Baby Boomer” leaders to carry-out specific support functions necessary to assist with disaster preparedness, response and recovery efforts within assigned communities.
• Recruit, train and manage 48 volunteer leaders defined as Baby Boomers to carry-out specific support functions necessary to assist with capacity building of Habitat.

“The contribution by older volunteers to their communities is enormous,” said Dennis. “Older volunteers bring a wealth of experience, expertise and skills to community activity whether they have been the chief executive of a business or a homemaker caring for children.

“As the number of over-50s rises, we should not see this as a demographic time bomb, but as an amazing potential asset for our communities,” Dennis added. “For Habitat and our partner families, their efforts mean more homes, more neighborhoods, more lives changed. This grant is a blessing to the work that we are already doing and work that it will now make possible.”

Habitat for Humanity International, based in Americus, Ga., is an ecumenical Christian ministry that welcomes to its work all people dedicated to the cause of eliminating poverty housing. Since 1976, Habitat has built more than 200,000 houses in nearly 100 countries, providing simple, decent and affordable shelter for more than one million people. For more information, visit