Habitat for Humanity International was founded in 1976. Today the organization is a world leader in addressing the issues of poverty housing. The concept that grew into Habitat for Humanity was born at Koinonia Farm, a small interracial, Christian community outside of Americus, Georgia. Founders Millard and Linda Fuller visited the farm in 1965 seeking a life of Christian service. At Koinonia, the couple developed the concept of “partnership housing.” The concept centered on those in need of adequate shelter working side by side with volunteers to build simple, decent houses.
In 1984, former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and his wife Rosalynn took their first Habitat work trip to New York City. The personal involvement in Habitat’s ministry brought the organization national visibility and sparked interest in Habitat’s work across the nation. The group experienced a dramatic increase in the number of affiliates around the country.
Through the work of Habitat, thousands of low-income families have found new hope in the form of affordable housing. Churches, community groups, and others have joined together to successfully tackle a significant social problem—decent housing for all people. Today, Habitat for Humanity has built more than 300,000 houses, sheltering more than 1.5 million people in more than 3,000 communities worldwide. That includes the more than 60 houses built in Paducah, KY. D’Che Harper-Beyer is one of the people who has helped to make that happen in this community.
“I joined the group about 1998 I think,” says D’Che. “I was volunteering and helping with the local Habitat’s annual golf outing. I’ve helped coordinate the event on and off for the last ten years.”
D’Che became an official board member in 2007, then served as Board President for the next two years. In 2010, she was asked to serve as the Fundraising Chairperson.
“I was initially drawn to the work with Habitat because of the relationships it builds with partnering families,” D’Che comments. “Habitat is not a hand-out, it is a hand up. I like the idea that those who are being helped are helping themselves.”
Generally the homes are built at no profit, and the loans are interest free. Building costs are financed by financial partners, fundraising, donations, and new owner’s house payments. What the poor need is not charity, but capital; not caseworkers, but co-workers, says the Habitat for Humanity website. D’Che agrees.
“I’m proud of our fundraising efforts and improvements to the process of working with local families,” says D’Che. “I had the opportunity this year to meet with several of the home owners, which I truly enjoyed. It was nice to get to know them and understand better how Habitat is contributing to their personal lives.”
Paducah Bank has also been involved in support of the local Habitat organization. “The bank has helped in every way imaginable,” D’Che adds. Paducah Bank has multiple individuals that have served or are currently serving on the board or various Habitat committees. Paducah Bank has also provided monetary and in-kind donations, and the bank is a grant partner with the Federal Home Loan Bank.
“All of this can only be accomplished with the strong support of volunteers and institutions like Paducah Bank,” D’Che says. “And we’re always looking for new ideas and new energy on our board, so I’d like to encourage anyone who has a heart for helping people to get in touch with our local Habitat for Humanity. Watching people move into a home they never thought was possible can be an emotional experience. Seeing the smiles on their faces and the pride in their possession of a new home is hard to put into words.”
You can reach Habitat for Humanity at 270.444.2060.