River City Habitat for Humanity is a housing ministry serving low-income, working families in Cole County. We began building our first home in 1992 and in just 25 short years, we have successfully served over 100 families in our community – thanks to donors, local business partners and the United Way of Central Missouri. The 100th home was completed in the summer of 2016 with the generous help of community volunteers and donors!
We are the local affiliate of Habitat for Humanity International, a worldwide organization dedicated to eliminating poverty housing from the face of the earth. The essential premise of Habitat for Humanity is that no one any where should be without a simple, decent place to live. Habitat homes are built with deserving families, not for deserving families. All future homeowners are expected to contribute “sweat equity” in the form of hours worked on their own home or on other Habitat projects. Habitat homes are built with the “theology of the hammer” because even though Habitat for Humanity is an ecumenical Christian organization, people of all faiths are welcome to pick up a hammer and work on Habitat projects. Habitat homes are simple, decent shelter but they are not extravagant.
One of the biggest misconceptions about Habitat homes is that they are a “giveaway program.” Nothing could be further from the truth. Along with their required sweat equity hours, partner families become homeowners upon completion of their houses and they must have sufficient income to buy their houses over time, paying back no-interest mortgage loans over 25 years. They are also required to attend monthly educational classes on homeownership, which teach them home maintenance, budgeting, mortgage basics and much more!
We also started our ReStore in November 1999, which has become one of the largest sponsors of Habitat homes throughout the years. The store is filled with household items generously donated from the community and gives bargain shoppers a place to come and shop. Almost all of the income generated from the store goes towards building homes for deserving families in the community. The store is run completely by volunteers, who generously give their time and energy to help River City Habitat for Humanity accomplish our mission of providing families with affordable homes.
Our partnership with United Way is an integral part of our success throughout the years. Just last year, we received a United Way of Central Missouri Community Support Grant to purchase a new 7'X14' Doolittle Enclosed Cargo Trailer. This trailer has been incredibly helpful in our construction efforts as it allows us to transport materials and supplies to and from our numerous construction sites. As we build approximately 4-5 homes per year, we usually have many different construction projects happening at one time, and the trailer definitely makes a huge difference! We have received several other United Way Community Support Grants to support our work through the years, including a grant to build and repair can cottages, purchase a gently used forklift, and to update the ReStore phone system.
River City Habitat for Humanity is proud to be a part of the Jefferson City community and could not accomplish our mission without the generosity of everyone in our area. From donated goods, volunteer time, grants and financial support, the community is the backbone of our organization. We appreciate United Way of Central Missouri and the Jefferson City community!
Article by Susan Cook-Williams
Executive Director, River City
Habitat for Humanity