Chatham Habitat kickstarts faith-based initiative in new year

BY ZACHARY HORNER, News + Record Staff
Posted 1/10/20

After a year-long process of examining how best to reach the faith community in Chatham County, Chatham Habitat for Humanity is reaching out.

The nonprofit kicked off “Raising Faith,” a …

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Chatham Habitat kickstarts faith-based initiative in new year

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Posted

After a year-long process of examining how best to reach the faith community in Chatham County, Chatham Habitat for Humanity is reaching out.

The nonprofit kicked off “Raising Faith,” a campaign of awareness and fundraising aimed at all faith communities, on New Year’s Day.

“Without the faith community, Chatham Habitat would not exist,” said Anna DeConti, Chatham Habitat board member and faith relations committee chairman. “That’s why it’s so important to make sure they stay a key part of the entire homeownership process. Through this campaign, we hope to engage with new faith partners and deepen the level of engagement we have with our current partners.”

In January 2019, Chatham Habitat formed a faith relations committee designed to learn what faith-based groups were seeing as challenges and barriers to supporting the nonprofit’s work. According to the organization, they found that congregations want more personal interactions with families taking on homeownership, faith leaders want more access to receiving and sharing information on ownership and groups focused on support and donations wanted more flexibility in contributions.

Faith groups can request a specific “Raising Faith” packet from Chatham Habitat which offers those things. For example, there’s a Lenten calendar with recommendations for daily donations ranging from two cents to one dollar based on items you have in your home. On Ash Wednesday, participants are encouraged to deposit 25 cents for each year they’ve lived in their home. Another day encourages adding $1 if they have internet access. The goal is to raise $30,000 to use for building homes in Siler City and Habitat’s New Roberts Run neighborhood in Pittsboro.

While the campaign is focused on faith groups, it’s not limited just to Christian churches. While Habitat for Humanity has a Christian-based history and founding, the packet says that “any faith group, whether it is Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, secular or spiritual” is welcome to participate.

The packet also includes testimonials from people who have participated in receiving Chatham Habitat’s help in the past and how that has connected to their faith journey. One testimonial is from Bobby Nicholas, a member of Emmaus Baptist Church. He spoke of struggling to find a good and safe place to live for him and his family, and then the opportunity to apply for a Habitat house came along.

“We watched the house being built even though we didn’t know that would be our house,” Nicholas said. “Because all of that happened and we now own the house, my faith has been even stronger. I remember the struggle throughout my life of wanting a house and need a safe place to live. I feel that towards people and know what they feel like.”

Those seeking more information are encouraged to visit chathamhabitat.org/faith.

Reporter Zachary Horner can be reached at zhorner@chathamnr.com or on Twitter at @ZachHornerCNR.

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