by John Hoerner
from The Alabama Episcopalian, Jan/Feb/Mar 2018
A life-changing event may come in many different forms. For some people, it’s obtaining a house that they can finally afford. Shawnkitta Moore and her three children found their place to call home, thanks to Habitat for Humanity of Greater Birmingham.
Nearly forty years ago, Millard Fuller had a vision of building affordable housing, and Habitat for Humanity was formed. The organization quickly gained recognition when former U.S. President Jimmy Carter became a Habitat partner a decade later.
Today, Habitat for Humanity builds affordable – not free – housing throughout the world. Every Habitat homeowner has a mortgage; volunteers help build every house alongside the homeowner. That labor, along with monetary and materiel donations, are what makes the houses affordable.
Three years ago, the Birmingham Convocation revived the annual “Episcopal Build,” gathering volunteers and donations from all the metro parishes to build homes in Adamsville, Calera, and most recently in Montevallo. After ten weeks of work, the house was completed. More than 350 volunteers participated, many wielding hammers, caulking guns and paintbrushes several days each week. Others who were not comfortable working with tools were “gofers” or provided lunch for the volunteers.
One feature of this house is a solar panel installation – a first for a Habitat house in metro Birmingham. Sam Yates, a member of Cathedral Church of the Advent, donated the system. His company, Eagle Solar and Light, installed seven rooftop panels with built-in micro inverters. The panels produce alternating current that connects directly to the house’s electrical system. There are no storage batteries. This system works in conjunction with the power company to offset power usage, and can be monitored with a smart phone.
At the dedication on November 18, 2017, a volunteer gave a new Bible and the keys to “Kitta” and her children during a brief ceremony. Afterwards, volunteers toured their new home and enjoyed a cookout.
John Hoerner and his wife Lee are Adventers and are active in our Mission & Outreach ministries.