A shared calling to help others has evolved into something much more for all involved with the Lexington Habitat for Humanity; it has become a way of life. Lexington Habitat CEO Rachel Smith Childress explains, “For me, this is a ministry, a tangible way to love God and to love others. It is at the core of my faith and the faith of so many here to show our love to God by loving our neighbors and Lexington Habitat for Humanity offers this experience to others.”
"It really is a community wide effort."
Though Habitat for Humanity originated in 1976 out of Americus, Georgia, Lexington’s Habitat for Humanity was founded in 1986 by Jack and Eudora Russell who felt a similar calling while camping in Tucson, Arizona during the Spring of ‘86 right next to a lot where a Habitat for Humanity house was being built. “We were so impressed by the volunteers who were building it, the sweat equity of the family who were to live in it, including the children there helping when they could, and the attractive and functional house that was being built that we knew Lexington needed a program like that,” the couple shared. With the mission to “Put God’s love into action, Habitat for Humanity brings people together to build homes, communities and hope.”
Today, Habitat for Humanity operates around the globe and has helped build, renovate and repair more than 600,000 houses providing shelter for more than 3 million people worldwide. Since its inception, the Lexington Habitat for Humanity (one of the Best Places to Work in Kentucky for four years running) has helped over 450 families achieve homeownership adding 35 million dollars in property tax value locally over the past thirty years alone. As staggering as these statistics may seem, for every one person served, there are still thousands more in need. A better way to understand the magnitude of this organization’s impact is to put a face to the cause, not just a number.
LaToya Williams was born and raised in Lexington and has lived in Central Kentucky her entire life. She works at UPS in a supervisor role as an Operations Trainer and has three “GREAT” children and one fantastic grandchild. LaToya loves people, loves her family, her church, (Shiloh Baptist Church) and her community. She believes in setting goals and has worked hard to teach her children the importance of goal-setting along with the notion that we are capable of so much more than we ever think possible. One of LaToya’s goals was to own her own home and after two long years, her goals and her dreams have come true. On April 28, 2019, LaToya’s beautiful home was celebrated with a dedication ceremony with her friends, her family, the Habitat for Humanity community, and a special blessing performed by her pastor from Shiloh Baptist Church.
“No matter what situation you’re in, there is no where else to go but up,” encourages LaToya. She continues, “I started with Section 8 housing and went through an incredibly intensive self-sufficiency program with Section 8 for two years. Lexington Habitat for Humanity has been with me every step of the way and the input, knowledge and help they have given me has been remarkable. To own something and to be a part of it literally from the ground up, there is an incredible amount of appreciation there, and I am so very grateful for this life and this opportunity.” LaToya is one of thousands in Lexington who have been positively impacted and influenced by the Lexington Habitat. She has been so moved by this process that she has become an active volunteer with Lexington Habitat for Humanity and plans to continue giving to the community around her to keep the forward momentum going. “This is what it is all about,” attests Rachel. “Bringing people together and loving your neighbors and your neighborhood. It really is a community wide effort.”
Welcome Home Program
Speaking of loving your neighborhood, The Lexington Habitat has recently launched the new “Welcome Home” realtor partnership program in a very special way to celebrate homebuyers. In lieu of, or in addition to, a traditional welcome home gift for their clients, realtors can make a gift of $50 to Lexington Habitat for Humanity enabling low-income families to achieve the dream of homeownership. “Welcome Home” cards can be purchased either in advance or as needed and Lexington Habitat for Humanity will mail the card to the new homeowners on behalf of the realtor. Realtors will be highlighted and celebrated for partnering in this program through a variety of social media avenues, on Lexington Habitat’s website and through an annual ad in the Lexington Herald-Leader Homeseller” insert. “We are so very grateful for our local realtors, The Realtor Community Housing Foundation and the Young Realtors of the Bluegrass who have been so involved in our efforts through volunteering and have made HUGE impacts in our community. As simple as it seems, a little bit from a lot of people goes a long way and we want to give a big shout-out to them for their incredible work and for bringing lots of people together to do great things,” says Rachel. “Every bit helps”, she continues, and as she gently reminds us, “until everyone has a decent place to live, none of us do.”
There are several ways to get involved with this incredible organization from volunteering time, donating materials, giving funds or by providing prayers that help strengthen the Habitat Team on days that are tough.
Learn more: lexhabitat.org • 859.252-2224 x153