30 years of impact and koinonia in the Capital District

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Whether or not you joined us at the Linda for Homecoming on October 11, thank you for helping make our 30-year history a story about the power of neighborly love. This community of volunteers, subscribers/followers, donors and homeowners reminds us at Habitat of our roots in Koinonia Farm, a radical and interracial community in rural Georgia, founded in 1942.

Koinonia is often translated from Greek as community, fellowship or sharing. It is an ancient, sacred word signifying a group of people sharing a commitment to put their common values into action.

Many of us are longing for deeper connection, for a sense of purpose. For a way to put our faith and values into direct, tangible action. At Habitat we have chosen, as our means of manifesting neighborly love, to focus on creating opportunities for all people to live in safe, affordable homes. We are called to know each other and to care for one another as we would for our brothers and sisters. We are called to serve.

Some history
Koinonia Farm’s commitment to racial justice, complete equality of all people and shared generosity laid the foundation for Habitat’s model of "partnership housing.”  Habitat’s founders, Millard and Linda Fuller, grew that concept into what we now know of today—Habitat for Humanity and its partnership between those in need of adequate shelter and those who can volunteer to build decent, affordable homes. Partnership—true partnership—is at the heart of what we do. Homebuyers partner with Habitat, contributing hundreds of hours of their own labor into building their homes along with, of course, paying their monthly mortgage payments. And then volunteers and donors match those hours with their own time and resources.

We believe that no matter who we are or where we come from, we all deserve to have a decent life, to feel strength and stability day after day, and to know that we have the power to build our own futures. Thirty years ago, a group of dedicated volunteers transplanted the seeds of equality and partnership to the Capital District. A simple concept was put into action – offer a hand up, not a hand out – and Habitat for Humanity became a direct response to not just the lack of affordable housing crisis, but to years of housing discrimination and urban disinvestment.

Our early growth was slow and steady, with volunteers building 15 homes in our first decade. Since then, we have begun to revitalize entire blocks, and we celebrated the completion of our 130th home earlier this year!

Koinonia’s founder, Clarence Jordan, has a famous quote that goes “What the poor need is not charity but capital, not caseworkers but co-workers. And what the rich need is a wise, honorable and just way of divesting themselves of their over-abundance.” Most of us don’t think of ourselves as rich, but the point that Clarence was trying to make is that we can all contribute something, whether that’s a few dollars or much more.

The reason that Habitat has been able to make such an incredible impact in our community is because of people like you. People who join in the work, who give what they can and who commit to partnership. Partnership is central to our mission. It’s where we began, and it’s what sustains us. Although we’ve made progress, there is still so much more to go. The housing need is too great. There are too many families in need of better housing. We know that right here in Albany and Troy, around 42,000 households can’t afford their apartment and many more are living in unacceptable, unsafe conditions.

One of Habitat’s mission principles is, in all our work, to put housing on hearts and minds in such powerful ways that poverty housing becomes socially, politically and religiously unacceptable.

Thank you for helping build a more just, beloved community.

At this year’s Homecoming gathering, 18 new members joined our Carpenters Club with a monthly gift. Their partnership sustains our homebuilding efforts throughout the year, guaranteeing the funds needed to buy construction materials, like nails and paint, every month for families working hard to have a place to call their own. Visit the event photo gallery here.