The Patience To Win

Posted by Lauren
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By Michelle Spada, Director of Family Services

I was out in Colorado this past week for a wedding and had the opportunity to visit Pikes Peak Habitat for Humanity. I spoke with that affiliate’s Director of Homeowner Services and a theme came out in our conversation—non-violent social change. As she was describing some of their affiliate’s work and challenges, she shared the following quote:

“Non-violence is not inaction. It is not discussion. It is not for the timid or the weak. Non-violence is hard work. It is the willingness to sacrifice. It is the patience to win.” ~Cesar Chavez

When we talk about non-violent social change, images of Martin Luther King Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi usually come to mind. But the work we do here at Habitat for Humanity of Montgomery County, PA is also non-violent social change. Last year, we impacted more than 700 families through homeownership, critical home repair, neighborhood revitalization, and financial literacy. But we impacted thousands of more families through advocacy.

Each time a volunteer comes to work at Habitat, they are exposed to the crisis of affordable housing and the challenges of homeownership. Each time our team speaks with a local government council, we broaden the perspective of local leaders by providing deeper insight into their constituents. Each community meeting held through our Neighborhood Revitalization Program brings residents together in a unique way to talk through challenges, community assets, and solutions. Slowly but surely, these small steps contribute to non-violent social change both here in Montgomery County and across the United States.

But it takes patience. This type of social change doesn’t happen overnight and often it feels like one step forward and two steps back. The Director of Homeowner Services of Pikes Peak Habitat for Humanity shared with me how she sees this patience across her staff, the families she works with, and the volunteers who bring the work alive.

I see this same patience here at Habitat for Humanity of Montgomery County.  I see it in the cashiers who volunteer their time in the ReStore to bring in crucial funds that fuel our programs. I see it in the volunteer lawyers who spend their free time not at home with their families but figuring out complex housing situations with us. I see it in the Girl Scout Troop that has stepped up to support our Kids Club Program in Norristown. I see it in residents coming out to community meetings to discuss a better neighborhood for their children.

These small acts lead to social change because they fuel a larger message: “We are not okay with the way things are. We will do whatever we can to participate in things changing. We will not give up when the work gets hard, or when we are asked to sacrifice, or when it feels like the results are taking too long.”

Habitat for Humanity believes that everyone deserves a decent place to live, and that everyone can make a difference. Every staff member, every volunteer, every donor, and every family contributes to non-violent social change by believing that change is possible and working day-after-day for that change.  Join with Habitat Montco to be part of non-violent social change, and with patience and dedication, we will continue to impact our communities.