The past month has been filled with headline news that highlight the tensions in our society surrounding race, discrimination, and a difference in values.
As I considered Macomb County Habitat for Humanity’s report card in this area, I was pleasantly surprised at how far we have journeyed in the past five years. Actually, I’m very proud of our work in this arena, and would like to share our successes.
- Thanks to a generous donor, we have provided Diversity Training to our staff at least twice and would like to do so again in the near future. Outcome: While we all agree that we will never have the same personal beliefs about politics, race, sexual orientation, religion, and so much more, – we do agree that while we are working for Habitat we will always treat everyone fairly and with respect, regardless of ANY differences they may have.
- In the distant past, it appears we were less than welcoming to applicants who resided in counties other than Macomb County who wanted to participate in our Home Ownership Program. Outcome: Because we will not and cannot discriminate based on federal housing laws, and because the current leadership values all applicants, even those who are foreign-speaking, every possible effort has been made to warmly welcome each candidate who applies. No one is turned away based upon their current address. All must have a willingness to partner, earn a minimum of $23,000, be willing to volunteer 250 hours of sweat equity per adult; and have a minimum credit score of 600.
- The Board of Directors and the staff were not diverse. Outcome: Today, our Board is comprised of (1) Indian female; (1) Hispanic male; (2) AA males; (3) AA females; (5) C females; and (5) C males. The staff is comprised of (4) C females; (1) Asian female; (3) AA females; (8) C males; (7) AA males; (1) Hispanic Male; (1) Middle Eastern female.
- Our Partner Families are diverse. Outcome: To us, a family can be one person, a couple, a single parent, or a married couple with children. They can have a wide spectrum of beliefs but none of these are taken into account except for those I mentioned above in bullet #2.
- While Macomb County Habitat for Humanity is a Christian–based organization, we show our Christianity through our actions towards others. Outcome: We pray for others and for each other. Our goal is to serve as many people as possible regardless of their religious convictions. Our hope is that many will be touched by our work and will feel God’s love through our actions.
We may not be defined by the work we are doing in this arena, but all of us at Macomb Habitat are consciously aware of our own biases, preconceived notions, learned beliefs, and prejudices. We check them at the Habitat door and wrap our arms and our hearts around all who honor us with their requests for assistance.