How Habitat is doing the job right

By Ron Clewer, Illinois Market President, Gorman & Company, LLC

How many of us have heard – if you’re going to do a job, do it right?

For several years, I have committed to moving nonprofit organizations from thinking about how many people they serve, to achieving impact or the quantifiable difference they’ve made in the lives of people they intend to help. The Rockford Area Habitat for Humanity chapter is one of our local organizations that gets and achieves impact alongside the homeowners they assist.

Stable, affordable housing is essential to strong, vibrant families and communities, and has been shown to improve educational access and outcomes, wealth and financial stability, and civic and social engagement – but that’s only part of the story.

Health and financial security are deeply interconnected. There is significant research that shows the adverse impact poor health has on financial security. There is also research that financial insecurity has a deep impact on physical and mental health. It’s a vicious cycle, but Habitat is proven to be effective at breaking that cycle and helping their homeowners build financial security and wealth.

Contradictory to long-stated American values of equal opportunity, hard work, and upward mobility, the impacts of wealth inequality are far reaching and evident in poor outcomes for all areas mentioned above. Because of the work of our Rockford chapter, which brings its international organization’s values home to roost in our neighborhoods and the homes and hearts of Rockford Habitat homeowners, I have seen lives, families, and neighborhoods transformed.

As former CEO of the Rockford Housing Authority, I was lucky enough to see several of our residents–residents hoping for and willing to work for more– obtain not just a house through Habitat, but a new home and lifestyle; a lifestyle that changed their families’ educational, financial, and health trajectories.

Keri and her team at Rockford Area Habitat for Humanity are not just doing it right, but deliver outcomes with a level of empathy that is making durable change in Rockford. If you haven’t yet served as a volunteer or been a donor to Habitat, I encourage you to consider both now, as “build season” is just around the corner and it’s always a heartwarming experience to do the job right.