Habitat for Humanity is a global non-profit organization that aims to help low-income families and communities around the world build and improve their homes. Founded in 1976 in Americus, Georgia, by Millard and Linda Fuller, Habitat for Humanity has become one of the most recognizable and respected charities in the world.

The organization's mission is to provide affordable housing to those in need, and they achieve this through a unique partnership model. Habitat for Humanity builds homes with the help of volunteers, and families who receive these homes are required to contribute "sweat equity" by working alongside volunteers and putting in hundreds of hours of their own labor during the build. Families also receive affordable mortgages through Habitat for Humanity and typically have a term of 20 to 30 years.

Since its inception, Habitat for Humanity has built over 800,000 homes in more than 70 countries, helping millions of people improve their living conditions and break the cycle of poverty. The organization's work has been praised by world leaders, including former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, who has been a longtime supporter of Habitat for Humanity and, along with his wife Rosalynn, has worked alongside volunteers worldwide for decades via the internationally renowned “Carter Work Project,” teaming up with country music legends Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood to support the global Habitat initiative.

Locally, Habitat for Humanity of St. Joseph County, Indiana, has been building partnerships with homeowners and community members for more than 35 years.  And in 2018, our Michiana community became host for the Carter Work Project, spearheaded by former President Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, as ground was broken in Mishawaka on a Habitat community that today includes more than 61 completed homes, as well as sites for an additional 14 single-family residences.  Known as The Fields at Highland, this vibrant, active Habitat community was made possible in part by a donation of 14.5 acres, freely given by the late Frank Darnell, a local businessman who helped to make The Fields at Highland community a reality.  This modern subdivision development includes curbed streets, sidewalks, and a huge playground that is buzzing with neighborhood children this time of year, playing together within walking distance of their new homes.

Habitat for Humanity of St. Joseph County Programs

Habitat for Humanity of St. Joseph County (HFHSJC) has several homeownership programs that serve to further its mission:

  • The Muffet McGraw Women Build – in the words of Notre Dame University legend, Muffet McGraw, one of the most successful and respected women's basketball coaches of all time, “I build houses with women for women. The Habitat for Humanity Muffet McGraw Women Build changes lives right here in St. Joseph County by building strength, stability and independence through shelter." 
  • The Matthew 25 Build - Led by a coalition of local churches, HFHSJC brings people together to build homes, communities, and hope.
  • The Notre Dame Student Build - Each year, Notre Dame students come together to organize volunteers and raise funds to help homeowners build a better future for themselves and their families.

Habitat for Humanity of St. Joseph County also offers specialty programs for seniors and veterans:

  • HFHSJC’s Aging in Place program helps seniors aged 60 and older in St. Joseph County continue to live in their own homes and community safely, independently and comfortably.
  • HFHSJC’s Veterans’ program helps U.S. military veterans access affordable housing.

In addition, HFHSJC also operates the Habitat for Humanity ReStores at 2411 S. Main St, South Bend, and 5225 Grape Rd, Mishawaka. Not only do proceeds from the ReStores help fund the Habitat mission, the ReStores serve the community with affordable furniture, fixtures, building and remodeling supplies, and other items, many of which are donated by community members.

The Need for Affordable Housing

The need for affordable housing is a global issue, affecting millions of people around the world. According to a report by the United Nations, an estimated 1.6 billion people currently live in substandard housing.[1]

Lack of access to safe, decent, and affordable housing can have a range of negative effects on individuals and communities. It can lead to overcrowding, which can increase the risk of disease and reduce the quality of life for residents. It can also lead to homelessness, which can have a range of physical and mental health consequences, including increased rates of substance abuse, mental illness, and chronic health conditions.

Habitat for Humanity's Approach

Habitat for Humanity's unique approach to addressing the affordable housing crisis has proven to be effective in helping families and communities in need. The organization's work is based on four core principles: partnership, empowerment, sustainability, and innovation.

Partnership: Habitat for Humanity works in partnership with local communities, governments, and other organizations to identify families and communities in need of affordable housing. This collaborative approach helps ensure that Habitat builds are located in areas where there is the greatest need, and that families who receive Habitat homes are able to integrate into their communities and build supportive relationships with their neighbors.

Empowerment: Habitat for Humanity's approach is centered on empowering families and communities to take an active role in the construction and maintenance of their homes. By requiring families to contribute "sweat equity" and work alongside volunteers, Habitat helps build a sense of ownership and pride in the homes and communities they create.

Sustainability: Habitat for Humanity's homes are built to be sustainable and energy-efficient, which helps reduce costs for families and ensures that homes are environmentally responsible. The organization also uses sustainable building practices, such as using locally sourced materials and implementing green building techniques, to minimize the impact of construction on the environment.

Innovation: Habitat for Humanity is committed to innovation and constantly seeks new ways to improve its programs and services. The organization has developed a range of innovative solutions to address the unique challenges of providing affordable housing in different parts of the world, including building disaster-resistant homes and providing microfinance loans to help families pay for home repairs and improvements.

Volunteerism and Community Engagement

Volunteerism is a central part of Habitat for Humanity's work, and the organization relies on the support of volunteers around the world to help build homes and support its programs. Habitat Volunteers come from all walks of life and include students, retirees, and professionals, as well. 

Habitat for Humanity is an organization that is making an incredible impact on the lives of millions of people around the world. Their innovative approach to providing affordable housing, their commitment to sustainability, and their emphasis on partnership and community engagement have helped families and communities break the cycle of poverty and achieve a better quality of life.

Indiana Trust Wealth Management congratulates Habitat for Humanity of St. Joseph County, Jim Williams, its President & CEO; and Jill LaFountain, its Director of Community Relations; as well as its amazing staff and volunteers, on its incredible commitment to our community. Habitat's continued success is made possible when individuals and businesses embrace the Habitat mission, whether through volunteerism, sponsorships, donations, or spreading the word about the incredible programs they offer to those in need. 

Tina M. Patton, CSOP™, CISM®, Indiana Trust Vice President, Director of Nonprofit & Foundation Engagement states, “It is such a pleasure to spotlight Habitat for Humanity of St. Joseph County for the month of May.  Your organization changes so many lives and allows families to realize dreams they never thought possible. We salute you for your continued efforts to be a beacon of light in the Michiana area.”  Jill LaFountain, Director of Community Relations, Habitat for Humanity of St. Joseph County, adds, “Thank you, Indiana Trust, for all you do in helping Habitat for Humanity of St. Joseph County fulfill our mission of bringing people together to build homes, communities, and hope. Our vision is a world where everyone has a decent place to live. Thank you for being a part of making it happen!

Pictured above, left to right:  Tina M. Patton, CSOP™, CISM®, Indiana Trust Vice President, Director of Nonprofit & Foundation Engagement;  Jill La Fountain, Director of Community Relations, Habitat for Humanity of St. Joseph County, Indiana; and Jim Williams, President & CEO, Habitat for Humanity of St. Joseph County, Indiana.

Learn more about Habitat for Humanity of St. Joseph County


1.      https://press.un.org/en/2020/soc4884.doc.htm

About the Indiana Trust Nonprofit Spotlight Program

Indiana Trust Wealth Management launched the Indiana Trust Nonprofit Spotlight program initiative in January 2021, which consists of recognizing, rewarding, and promoting a nonprofit organization in one or more of the company’s footprint areas on a monthly basis, as a way to highlight various nonprofit organizations throughout the year and bring attention to the good work being done in the communities they serve. Under the Nonprofit Spotlight initiative, the nonprofit organization will receive a $1,000 corporate donation and be eligible for employee gift-matching throughout the year. David R. Kibbe, JD, President & CEO, states, “As a majority employee-owned company, matching our employees’ contributions is an opportunity for Indiana Trust to support those nonprofits whose missions connect with our employees."

About Indiana Trust Wealth Management

Chartered in 1988 as the first independent trust company in the state of Indiana, and now with more than $2 billion in assets under management, Indiana Trust is deeply committed to the communities they serve.  Advising clients and their families nationwide, Indiana Trust is dedicated to increasing financial security by providing superior, ethical, and unbiased wealth management and advisory solutions – delivering legacies built on trust.

Indiana Trust offers comprehensive wealth management strategies for individual and family wealth, business retirement plans, charitable organizations, foundations, and endowments – delivered with the fiduciary standard of care, a multigenerational commitment, and excellence in stewardship. The company is majority employee-owned with offices in Mishawaka, Elkhart, and Muncie.


IMPORTANT DISCLOSURES: All info contained herein is solely for general informational purposes, and is not to be construed as legal, accounting, or other professional advice. The author(s) and publisher, accordingly, assume no liability whatsoever in connection with the use of this material. Every effort has been made to ensure this material is correct at the time of publication. Copyright Indiana Trust Wealth Management, 2023.