Habitat for Humanity of Greenville County to Launch New Bridge Builder Construction Series to Foster Connections Among Disparate Community Groups

irst build in series will enhance relationships between local African American community, Greenville Police Department

GREENVILLE, S.C. (June 10, 2019) – Habitat for Humanity, a leading voice for affordable housing initiatives in South Carolina, is proud to announce the launch of its Bridge Builder series, a set of home construction projects designed to foster greater connection, cooperation and goodwill among disparate groups in our local community. The first build in the series will pair volunteers from local African American churches with volunteers from the Greenville Police Department and Christ Church Episcopal to build a home for an area family in need.

The Bridge Builder Series is the result of a discussion between Habitat Greenville executive director, Monroe Free, and Christ Church Episcopal rector, Harrison McLeod, on the critical role the faith community and non-profits can play in uniting people in a common and noble purpose.

“After watching the news and reading about current events, it can be easy to feel discouraged about the state of our nation and isolated from one’s neighbors,” said Monroe Free, executive director and chief executive officer, Habitat for Humanity of Greenville County. “The Bridge Builder series was born because Harrison and I recognized the pressing need to focus on all that we have in common and build bridges of trust and bonds of friendship among disparate groups.”

After careful consideration of multiple options for the first build and its long-standing relationships with the Greenville Police Department and several prominent African American churches, Habitat decided to launch the series with a build designed to enhance positive relationships between these two groups.

Long Branch Baptist Church and Greater Mt. Calvary Baptist Church committed volunteers and additional support for the build. They will work alongside Greenville police officers, community members and volunteers from Christ Church Episcopal to change the life of a hardworking area family.

“As people of faith, we are called to unite not divide and to live out God’s mission of love and mercy,” said the Reverend Windell Rodgers, pastor Greater Mt. Calvary Baptist Church, and the Reverend Sean Dogan, pastor, Long Branch Baptist Church. “This build offers an excellent opportunity to focus on all that is good and right in our community and what we all have in common.”

In keeping with its mission of faith in action, Christ Church Episcopal helped serve as a catalyst for this build and the Bridge Builder series, donating the land for the project in Greenville’s Sterling neighborhood, where they have built several houses and have an active outreach ministry, and providing volunteers.

“Throughout all of our ministries in the Greenville area, we recognize an ever-increasing need for connection and greater empathy,” said Harrison McLeod, rector, Christ Church Episcopal. “Christ Church places a strong emphasis on community involvement, engagement and service to establish these connections, as well as a deeper understanding and respect for others. The Bridge Builder Series and this build specifically are so important to our entire community and will establish ties that bind and will continue to bear fruit well into the future.”

The build, which will commence with a wall raising ceremony on June 20, will last approximately 12 weeks. Volunteers from each group will be present each day, working together and learning from one another. Volunteers will also share a meal each day and participate in thought-provoking discussions on topics ranging from why they chose to be involved with this project to what each group can do to encourage stronger relationships.

“The Greenville Police Department is dedicated above all else to serving the people of Greenville,” said Brandon LaVorgna, public affairs coordinator, Greenville Police Department. “Participating in this build allows us to demonstrate this servant’s heart and our concern for the community while enhancing relationships with minority groups. We hope this effort will not only help us foster greater trust and goodwill but assist with minority recruitment and community policing efforts, as well. We are very happy to work alongside our neighbors to improve the city we all call home.”

Habitat for Humanity is currently planning several Bridge Builder builds. Following the African-American and Greenville PD project, the next up in the series will be an interfaith build, with representatives from local mosques, synagogues and Christian churches working together to build a home for another local family in need. Other possible Bridge Builder series ideas include a multigenerational or joint alumni association build. Habitat Greenville welcomes input from local organizations who have ideas or would like to offer financial or volunteer assistance for a Bridge Builder Series project.

About Habitat for Humanity of Greenville County:

Habitat for Humanity Greenville County is a leading voice in addressing the pressing need for affordable housing options in Greenville County, partnering with local government and the private sector to offer viable solutions and advocate for impactful public policy. As part of its financial management program, the organization educates, informs and empowers participants to effectively manage their credit and secure low-interest mortgages, allowing them to purchase their own homes and help contribute positively to the community and the tax base of Greenville County.

Through these efforts and the construction of houses, Habitat for Humanity of Greenville enables Greenville families with low income to build strength, stability and self-reliance. Habitat Greenville received the EarthCraft Builder of the Year Award in 2017. Chartered in 1985, Habitat Greenville has completed construction of more than 360 homes. In recognition of its financial health, accountability and transparency, Habitat Greenville received 4-Star Charity status by Charity Navigator and a Platinum rating by Guidestar. Learn more at www.habitatgreenville.org.

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