— President Jimmy Carter
From “Habitat World”
Every house built by Habitat for Humanity in this city, county, state, nation and planet is equally important.
Each partnering family is just as valued.
Those whose homes are built tomorrow will be given the same respect, dignity and love as their predecessors from yesterday, the day before and yesteryear.
It is a doctrine tightly woven into the very fabric of Habitat and it is a vital cog in the everyday mission of the Cleveland affiliate.
It is a fact for which all Habitat for Humanity of Cleveland homeowners — past, present and future — should understand.
In keeping with this mindset, the local affiliate months ago elected to recognize the construction of House No. 79 as an historic milestone, one that observed a pair of heartwarming anniversaries — the 20th birthday of Habitat for Humanity of Cleveland and the 100th birthday of Whirlpool Corporation, a U.S.-based company whose long-standing relationship with Habitat dates back more than a decade.
In truth, Whirlpool for years has been one of Habitat for Humanity’s staunchest supporters across the North American continent and now around the world. The appliance manufacturer shows its support in a myriad of ways — through financial contributions, by appliance donations and most notably through a growing army of employee volunteers whose hammers have driven Habitat nails in all corners of America and in virtually every point in between.
It was no accident that in 2010 Whirlpool brought its vaunted Building Blocks program to the local community level. Over the past four years, the company has sent hundreds of employee volunteers to large cities like Nashville, Phoenix, Dallas and Atlanta where they constructed 36 Habitat for Humanity homes in weeklong blitz builds.
To evolve Building Blocks, and to help ring in the company’s centennial that officially started on Veterans Day, company leaders chose to lead home builds in five host communities this year, and more will follow in 2011. Inaugural builds have occurred in the states of Michigan, Washington, Ohio and Iowa, and now in our own Cleveland hometown.
The local kickoff came in mid-October and that set in motion the 20-day Whirlpool Blitz Build, a noteworthy home construction driven by 112 employee volunteers representing all three Cleveland-based Whirlpool functions — Whirlpool Cleveland Division, Whirlpool Cleveland Cooking Technology Center and Whirlpool Cleveland Customer eXperience Center. For the project’s duration, the Whirlpool team stayed on target, ahead of schedule and within budget.
The fruits of their labor came Thursday.
It was Veterans Day, Nov. 11, and the predetermined launch of the Whirlpool Centennial.
They did it in grand style.
At the 5 p.m. dedication in Century Village, professional recording artist Phil Stacey entertained, as did the soft-sounding crooners from the “Voices of Lee.” Special guests and guest speakers gave the crowd its richly deserved due — because the huge audience was comprised mostly of those who love Habitat for Humanity the most: volunteers, church leaders, civic supporters, corporate partners, lending institutions, recipient families from the past and present, and local government representatives.
It was a rare moment.
History will relive, and historians retell, the day as the dedication of a home and the moral commitment to a dream — one of ridding this community, country and globe of substandard housing ... one family at a time. It won’t come overnight. It won’t be finished in a year nor within the next decade. The final nail won’t be driven in our lifetime.
But one day it will come ... so long as the flames burn and the embers glow in the hearts of those who believe in a better world, a common vision and the seed of innate goodness that is firmly planted in the soul of mankind.
At the very least, Cleveland’s own Vickie Ledford now has a home of her own to raise a pair of granddaughters who perhaps one day will help others to build their homes.
At the very most, a river of new volunteers will flow into the sea of hope known to most as Habitat for Humanity.
Whirlpool is to be commended for its involvement in Thursday’s miracle.
Whirlpool employees are to be admired for their role as miracle makers.
It is a win won by all.
By a corporation.
And by an organization within whose habitat dwells the very heart of humanity.