Habitat for Humanity of Wicomico County
From the days of community barn raisings to 20th-century AmeriCorps programs and faith-based disaster relief efforts, people have come together to volunteer their time and labor to work in service of others. With a vision for “a world where everyone has a decent place to live,” Habitat for Humanity carries this tradition forward through its own model: combining long-standing ideals of volunteering and community service with construction and physical labor to provide housing and improve living conditions for low-income families.
Habitat for Humanity of Wicomico County was founded in 1987 by Alice and Walden Howard, friends of Habitat International’s founders Millard and Linda Fuller. They moved to Salisbury to start a Habitat affiliate in the area and settled on Salisbury due to the presence of a zoo, civic center, and university, proof of the Salisbury’s civic pride and philanthropic involvement. Since Habitat for Humanity of Wicomico County, Affiliate Number 218, became the second affiliate in Maryland, they have built 70 homes, including 20 in the Church Street neighborhood. Across 33 years of service, they have put more than 11,000 volunteers to work and invested seven million dollars in the community.
Salisbury’s culture of community service is epitomized by its Habitat for Humanity volunteers, community members of all backgrounds and abilities: nurses, plumbers, hairdressers, civil servants, and more. In 2004 Wicomico’s Habitat affiliate achieved one of its most successful collaborations: Barrie Tilghman, then Salisbury mayor, invited the nonprofit organization to collaborate with the city in revitalizing the Church Street neighborhood. With community volunteers pooling together to take on similar projects in collaboration with donors, Habitat opened doors in 2010 to its ReStore, which generates up to $90,000 annually to support the affiliate’s administrative budget so that all funds raised can go directly to building.
Demonstrating their commitment to work in service of others, approximately 20 Habitat volunteers will build two sheds at this year’s festival. Service, a significant part of many Marylanders’ daily lives, while often not for financial gain, equally upholds the dedication of practice of one’s skills, and the lasting community benefits of sharing them with neighbors.