Across the U.S., all Habitat for Humanity affiliates work not only to eliminating poverty housing and strengthen neighborhoods in their own communities, but also to eliminating poverty housing in communities around the world. Through an international tithing program, local chapters, including Milwaukee Habitat for Humanity, donate 10 percent of all unrestricted funding to international Habitat affiliates. This month, Milwaukee Habitat reached a total of more than $2 million in international tithe funds, becoming only the ninth affiliate in the U.S. to achieve that level of giving.
As a Christian-based organization, all Habitat for Humanity affiliates in the U.S are encouraged to “tithe” to developing countries. Over the past 29 years, Milwaukee Habitat’s tithe has funded housing projects in El Salvador, Ghana, Guatemala, Haiti, India, Kyrgyzstan, Nicaragua, Portugal, and Sri Lanka, and has also supported the Global Mission Fund, through which money is spread to areas in most dire need. With this support, more than 1,000 families have been able to find safe, decent housing and significantly improve their quality of life.
“The tithe is a part of our mission that we’re extremely proud of,” said Brian Sonderman, executive director of Milwaukee Habitat for Humanity. “We hope all our supporters know that when they give to our organization, they’re not just helping families in Milwaukee, they’re helping families across the world—many times in areas where housing conditions are truly appalling and housing assistance is practically nonexistent. With the differences in construction costs in developing countries, for every family that Habitat serves in our city, our tithe can serve at least three families globally.”
In addition to providing financial support, Milwaukee Habitat for Humanity staff and volunteers have also participated in numerous Habitat International Global Village Trips, giving their time and hands-on construction help to build alongside Habitat families. In the past five years, local Global Village volunteers have traveled to El Salvador, Chile, India, Thailand, and Kenya.
As a build-up to the $2 million milestone, Milwaukee Habitat has been conducting a “See the Change” challenge, working with community partners to try to collect 2,000,000 pennies, every cent of which will be donated directly to the affiliate’s primary tithe partners in El Salvador and Kyrgyzstan. Community partners have been invited to bring their pennies to the celebration on World Habitat Day, to participate in a ceremonial “pouring of the pennies” at the end of the evening.