How I got involved in Habitat
By Clark Howard
My father grew up in New York City during the Great Depression. Twice he came home from school to find his family’s possessions on the sidewalk. They had been evicted from their apartment for non-payment of rent. The experience stayed with him forever.
He was very lucky as an adult and lived a very comfortable life. In the winter of 1984, six homeless people froze to death in his adopted hometown of Atlanta. He was outraged that in the most affluent society in human history that people would die for lack of shelter. My sister asked him, ‘Why don’t you start one?’ And, with that, my Dad opened a shelter at our synagogue. The Temple Zaban Night Shelter is now 20 years old.
I used to argue with my dad about that fact that although the shelter was great, affordable housing was also part of the problem. He said to me, ‘If you think you are so smart, do something about it.’
I did. I founded a company called Cardinal Industries that had a design to build homes in a factory for $19,000. My dad and I were going to go visit the company in Ohio in 1989. However, my dad had terminal cancer and was never able to make the trip. Cardinal Industries went under and I forgot about the whole thing.
Then, five years later, I learned the story of Habitat for Humanity. Based on Midwestern barn raisings of the 1800’s, volunteers came together with the homeowner-to-be and built nice houses for extra cheap.
My wife and I started saving money and I donated all my speaking fees to a building fund at Habitat for Humanity. By 1996, I had enough money for the first house, which I was honored to build with the volunteer labor of my listeners and the family of our very first homeowner, Tiny Prather.
Since 1996, I have had the good fortune to sponsor 39 additional houses for a total of 40 hard working, deserving families. Most have never owned their own home before. And as always, every one of them worked hard building their new home, right along with us, side by side.
|The First 25 Homes: Homeowners and Dedications
|House #1: Tinnie Prather||—||In memory of Clark’s father, Bernard Howard|
|House #2: Cathy Thomas||—||Clark’s mother, Joy Howard|
|House #3: Sheryl Holliday-Thurman||—||The CAC and in memory of Penny Semple|
|House #4: Evelyn Stafford||—||Clark’s siblings|
|House #5: Stephanie McKneely||—||Merrell Bloedoorn|
|House #6: Detrice Carter||—||Kim Curley|
|House #7: Tara Timmons||—||Clark’s wife, Lane|
|House #8: Matisha Mahone||—||Clark’s daughter, Rebecca|
|House #9: Charlotte Weaver||—||Luba Bland, Habitat coordinator|
|House #10: Santesha Harvey||—||In memory of Clark’s father|
|House #11: Paulette Carter||—||Mark and Lael Butler|
|House #12: LeAndrea Carter||—||Fran Mitchell, CAC Director|
|House #13: Delores Richmond||—||The surviving families of United Flight #93|
|House #14: Betty Foreman||—||The CAC Significant 6|
|House #15: Kim-Tara Hammock||—||Clark’s mother-in-law, Martha Carlock|
|House #16: JCWP House||—||no dedication|
|House #17: Janice Brown||—||Christa DiBiase, Executive Producer|
|House #18: Yaschica Cluster||—||CAC Magnificent 7|
|House #19: Nille & Wilson Tiah||—||Kellie McMaster, Web Producer|
|House #20: Zenetta Smith||—||Joy Garson Howard, Clark’s mother|
|House #21: Vanitta Woods||—||The Elite Eight, CAC volunteers|
|House #22: Allen and Shirley Mathis||—||Pete Spriggs, WSB Program Director|
|House #23: Denise Rivers||—||Stephanie Howard, Clark’s daughter|
|House #24: Tanis Moses||—||Senator Johhny Isakson|
|House #25: Asmamaw Yayhe
& Semegne Esubaluw
|—||The Fabulous Three, CAC volunteers|