By Linda Lee Walden, F245876
It has become an FMCA convention tradition to adopt a charity with the idea of leaving something behind in the local communities FMCA visits. Since the international headquarters of Habitat for Humanity International is located in Americus, Georgia, only a few miles from the convention site in Perry, it seemed fitting that this non-profit organization devoted to eliminating poverty housing be recognized with that distinction for the recent “Southern Sensation” convention.
Members of the FMCA Chapter: Habitat for Humanity® coordinated a variety of Habitat-related activities throughout the Perry convention. Representatives from Habitat for Humanity International headquarters as well as its local Houston County affiliate joined chapter members in staffing the Habitat booth located in the FMCA Information Center. They provided information about how RVers can become involved as volunteers for Habitat for Humanity and gave away eye-catching chartreuse “Habitat Supporter” ribbons, which could be spotted adorning convention-goers’ credentials all over the fairgrounds.
In honor of the event, Habitat for Humanity founder and president Millard Fuller personally autographed copies of his most inspiring books, as well as a coffee table book commemorating the 25th anniversary of Habitat. These were sold at the booth, with the proceeds benefiting Habitat for Humanity International. A number of FMCA’s largest chapters were challenged to “build” their own Habitat houses –cardboard banks with stick-on bricks, doors, windows, and even a chimney. Individual building pieces were purchased and signed by donors. Participating chapters were recognized for their contributions during a Wednesday evening reception for Habitat supporters, hosted by the FMCA Chapter: Habitat for Humanity. The Discovery International chapter led the field, with a donation of nearly $1,000.
Clive Rainey, director of Habitat for Humanity’s 21st Century Challenge, was the keynote speaker at the reception, which was attended by the national officers of FMCA. Mr. Rainey literally was Habitat for Humanity’s first volunteer when it was founded in 1976, embracing the goal of eliminating poverty housing worldwide. He likened FMCA’s other charitable causes, literacy and homelessness, to bookends, saying, “They perfectly complement Habitat’s mission.”
Mr. Rainey also addressed the entire convention audience prior to Wednesday evening’s entertainment. Asking all who had previously volunteered with Habitat for Humanity to stand, he challenged them to spread the word about their Habitat experiences.
The traditional Fun and Fitness Walk was, as usual, a big success, with proceeds split between Habitat for Humanity International, the local Habitat affiliate, and the RV Care-A-Vanners. The walk took place on Thursday morning of the convention. The walk was divided into two groups, adding a longer route for serious power walkers.
Convention activities raised more than $4,000 and greatly increased awareness of Habitat for Humanity’s work, also gaining dozens of new members for the FMCA Chapter: Habitat for Humanity, which organizes group build opportunities for FMCA members in conjunction with FMCA conventions and area rallies. After the convention, 30 chapter members remained in Perry to participate in a two-week build with the Perry affiliate.