This chapter works and plays together while helping others.
By Peggy Jordan, Associate Editor
Many people have heard about Habitat For Humanity International, a nonprofit homebuilding organization that has affiliates throughout the United States and around the world. Founded in 1976 and based in Georgia, Habitat works to eliminate poverty housing and homelessness by constructing homes with participation from future owners. The homeowners, in turn, repay a no-interest, no-profit mortgage.
The idea of volunteering to build these homes while you stay in your home on wheels is not new. Habitat for Humanity has its own RV Care-A-Vanners program for RV owners who want to help. The difference is, the FMCA Chapter: Habitat For Humanity®, founded in 1998, consists of FMCA members. They often work through the Care-A-Vanners program to find building events, called builds, near FMCA area rallies and international conventions.
You don’t have to be a Christian to help Habitat, even though it is officially a Christian organization. Days start with devotionals, and every house receives a Bible. But the FMCA chapter president, Bob Weithofer, noted, “We’ve frequently had other religions represented among workers during the builds. And they don’t require you to be a Christian to receive a house.
“It’s all about helping someone who deserves assistance get a home. It is a hand up, not a handout.”
It’s also plenty of fun. The chapter is interest-based, not location-based, so you can meet FMCA friends from around North America. And if you can’t tell a Phillips from a flathead, there is no need to fret. Tasks are assigned according to your personal strengths. “My wife, she won’t touch a power tool, but she’ll do the roof and put the trusses up without thinking about it,” Bob said. On the other hand, Bob is not fond of heights: “I am not the guy for the roof!” he declared, even though he’s skilled in many areas.
Even if you think you’re physically unable to further the cause, you may wish to think again. Bob said, “We have people who were using walkers working on some of our jobs. There’s always something that needs to be done.”
At the end of the day, members gather for relaxation and community meals. The camaraderie that comes from sharing a common goal is real, and experiencing the same challenges and triumphs while building a house can make for close friendships.
The chapter’s next build is February 17 through March 2, 2019, in Dade City, Florida. The spot is convenient for snowbirds headed back north on their way to FMCA’s next international convention, March 13 to 16 in Perry, Georgia. If you are interested in helping, contact Bob, because there still may be a need for participants.
Bob said the group hopes to do a build near Minot, North Dakota, the site of FMCA’s summer convention August 14-17, 2019. Details still need to be arranged.
It’s much easier for the chapter to volunteer for builds already arranged through the Care-A-Vanners group, such as the Dade City build. As RVers, “We want to build during the week and have the weekends to go sight-seeing and rest,” Bob explained. But Habitat volunteers at local affiliates may be able to work only a couple of days a week, or only on weekends. As a result, it’s a little tricky finding places to build.
Regardless, when the chapter finishes a build near an FMCA area rally or convention, everyone benefits, not just the home’s recipients. The buzz about a Habitat home typically means “we get some kind of print or television coverage,” Bob said. “That helps both us and the local affiliate. Plus, it gets the name of FMCA out to the community at large, and potentially helps FMCA get new members.”
Besides all that, he said, in the end, all workers enjoy “a feeling you did something good and you helped the community.”
Who could ask for more?
Members of the FMCA Chapter: Habitat For Humanity <r> will be meeting during the March 2019 Perry convention; they welcome newcomers. Check the convention program or event app for the meeting’s date and time. More information is also available at www.tmbf.org/fmca-hfh/, or contact Bob Weithofer at [email protected]; (615) 218-7530.
For general information about FMCA chapters, contact the Chapter Services Department at (513) 474-3622 or (800) 543-3622; [email protected]
If you would like your chapter to be featured in Chapter Spotlight, contact FRV associate editor Peggy Jordan, (800) 543-3622, ext. 212; [email protected]