You are here

Shelter is ‘hands on’ for me

By Steve Thomas

Steve Thomas at a Habitat for Humanity build in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Photo by Allen Sullivan

The notion of house and shelter is very hands on and personal to me. In fact, I’ve renovated pretty much every house I’ve lived in, and so I’ve had the satisfaction of living in my own work. I realize I am more fortunate than most in that regard having grown up in the house building and renovating business and having acquired training and skills along the way.

As the fall tips inevitably into winter and days grow shorter and colder, I reflect on how many people in the world have no access to training, tools and materials and in fact have no real shelter at all.  The reality I come back to is that out of 7 billion people in the world, 1.6 billion live in substandard housing or in slums.  There is no magical solution to the problem, but doing something about it starts with the personal conviction that it’s just not right. 

Next, it’s like any building or renovation project — you plan the work and work the plan. Governments and NGO’s are critical to this effort, but ultimately tackling the world housing problem will be a lifelong project for all of us — as individuals.  Like any building effort it will be done incrementally — brick by brick, nail by nail. 

Habitat for Humanity works to educate, volunteer, advocate and donate and that’s just about right.  A lot of folks tell me they get more out of working with Habitat than they put in, and that’s just about right too.  Habitat for Humanity offers a clear and simple way that we as individuals can “plan the work and work the plan” to realize the mission of a world in which everyone has a decent place to live.  

And now, let’s get to work.