Gloves that say "every hand makes a difference."

MacFarlane family joins the Carters on the build site

During the Carter Work Project, Roger and Ruth MacFarlane and their family will be on the build site, hammers in hand, working alongside future Habitat homeowners.

Their participation throughout the week speaks to why they started a charitable family foundation and why they are among the sponsors of this year’s Carter Work Project in Mishawaka and South Bend, Indiana.

The Roger I. and Ruth B. MacFarlane Foundation supports causes that the family views as catalysts of change. Founded a decade ago, the foundation also gives the family a way to remain close.

“This is a living thing that binds our family together,” Roger MacFarlane says, “and it is the right thing for us to be doing.”

MacFarlane co-founded a global supply chain services and logistics company that was sold last year. He took some time out from playing with his grandchildren to talk about the foundation’s work and why his family views Habitat as an agent of change.

On the genesis of the MacFarlane Foundation

I didn’t come from a family of wealth and neither did my wife. We were fortunate — my business was successful.

My wife is very involved in philanthropy — she was the chair of our local orchestra and has been on the board of the school that our kids went to for 20 years. We paid for all of our children’s education, which hopefully has given them the skills and attitudes they need to be successful.

We had a big family meeting and told our children that we decided to put what would have been their inheritance into a family foundation – that the gift that we were giving them is the gift of knowing the joy that comes from giving money away for the betterment of others. All four of my children and their spouses are trustees, and everybody participates in identifying grant opportunities.

The other purpose for the foundation is that our children now live in different parts of the United States, and we felt that we needed a bonding process for them. We have meetings on the phone and typically get together once a year to evaluate proposals.

Part of the purpose for creating the foundation was to make sure that we had something that drew us together, something that was not about us or something we gained from, but something that focused us outward, not inward.

On why the foundation supports Habitat

We love the Habitat model. The sustainable elements are very impressive — the way the potential homeowner participates in creating their own future and how payments go to help fund the next home.

We love that Habitat is a community activity. People from the community participate in the build, and the homeowner participates in other builds. The fact that Habitat has been so comprehensively spread around the world since it was created in Georgia is also incredibly impressive.

On the foundation’s longstanding relationship with Habitat St. Joseph County

One of my daughters, her husband and my two grandchildren live in Mishawaka. My son-in-law is in the home-improvement business and a founding trustee of our foundation. He is the one who recommended Habitat St. Joseph County to the family.

What that Habitat is doing is very impactful and a perfect fit for us. We have supported a number of builds there – Women Build, in particular.

On how is Habitat a catalyst for change

In my mind, taking the Habitat model and applying it different ways is a catalyst for change. We have met some of the families that we have helped support and have seen the impact.

Another way that Habitat is a catalyst is the way in which families who are moving into Habitat homes are integrated into their community. Habitat is a catalyst for that community. The whole Habitat model is a catalyst

Carter Work Project 2018

The 2018 Carter Work Project headed to Indiana where President and Mrs. Carter worked alongside future homeowners and volunteers to build or improve 41 homes in Mishawaka and South Bend.

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