Family ties

Families are at the heart of Habitat’s mission. And in some families, the drive to help others find decent, affordable housing is passed down like eye color, a habit of the heart.

Rachel Leonard-Meyers carries on one of those happy legacies. She volunteered for Habitat for 10 years before joining the staff of Our Towns Habitat in North Carolina, where she is now associate executive director.

But her connection to Habitat goes deeper than that. Her father, Paul Leonard, served on the organization’s international board of directors, was board chairman for two years, and once served as interim CEO. He currently sits on Habitat’s U.S. Council.

Rachel’s mother Judy is also a longtime Habitat volunteer. She has sat on the Our Towns board and was a committee chairperson at the time Rachel began working there.

In his book about Habitat, Music of a Thousand Hammers, Paul recalls five days in the June sun during the 1992 Carter Work Project in Washington, D.C. Working alongside his wife, Paul writes, he “quickly discovered what people of goodwill can accomplish together. I understood, maybe for the first time, the pure joy a house brings to a family desperate for a simple, decent, safe place to live.”

Recognizing that joy is another family tie. She is truly affected, Rachel says, by the stories she hears from families, “their dreams for the future” and the chance “to see greater possibilities in their lives.”