This letter is hard to write. Leaving Jackson County Habitat for Humanity is hard to do. The conversation around housing is hard to have. Hard things have to happen, sometimes.
I have formally resigned from my position as the Executive Director for Habitat for Humanity of Jackson County, effective Dec. 31, 2019. The year 2020 will be new for all of us. As I planned this letter I thought about how I could say thank you a million times and brag a little bit about all of the good work that JCHFH has done in my tenure, but I’ll only do a little of both. What I want to convey is the importance of action, the importance of inclusivity, diversity, growth, and all the other words that signal change. So, I’d like this letter to be a conversation starter, a conversation that hopefully will ruffle some feathers and might possibly hurt some feelings. My intent is not to hurt but to help facilitate the change that needs to happen.
Housing. We all deserve a decent place to call home. That is a slogan that we use at Habitat and it’s one that should evoke emotion for you. Some people don’t have decent housing and it isn’t necessarily their fault. Did you catch that? It’s not their fault. We should and need to be more intentional when talking about those people who don’t have decent housing. It cannot be “those people” but “us”. People in Jackson County do not have access to decent, affordable housing and it is a social construct. We created this. Our decisions, over time, have created a community that lacks inclusivity. You should not have to be from here, or work a certain job, or have a certain income to enjoy a healthy community in Jackson County. As someone who did grow up here, we can be better than that, we have to.
This conversation, around balanced housing, is important for so many reasons. Support your people and they will support you back. Too many conversations and too many decisions are being made without community input. We cannot keep telling citizens to come to council or commission meetings to have their voices heard, we need to go to them! People don’t have time to go to the meetings, they’re busy working, feeding their families, going to school, etc. We need to have real conversations that represent real people that solve real problems. In no way will it be easy but it is absolutely necessary.
If you made it this far give yourself a pat on the back. Somewhere inside you, you care about the subject. Now, I would like to say a genuine thank you to this community. To each and every person that supported me in my role as ED, but more importantly supported the mission of Jackson County Habitat for Humanity. Our community is LUCKY to have a thriving affiliate right here in the backyard. Some communities don’t have an organization like this one. The leadership of JCHFH has worked tirelessly for years to grow an organization that will support the community. Trust them to do good work, give accurate information and lead the conversation on balanced housing. Support your local Habitat affiliate by giving monthly, annually, anytime the mood strikes! This organization is unique and I promise your dollars go farther and wider than you can imagine. I’m grateful for my time here and the critical work we have done. There is so much more to happen and I firmly believe that the next Executive Director will be equipped to lead the way.