This October, 11 local congregations came together for Unity Build 2017. From October 5th to October 28th, believers of different faiths and traditions demonstrated their unity through common service, building a home with first-time home-buyer Nicole Pujol in just 13 work days. Unity Build participants raised funds, organized snacks and meals, and built the home.
Like so many Habitat homebuyers, Nicole’s drive to own a home came from her two children. “I wanted my kids to have a good strong foundation. To be able to say, ‘this is mine.’ And I wanted to work for something where I could say, ‘this is mine.’” When she initially heard of the First Time Homebuyers program from one of her mom’s friends, she was skeptical. It sounded too good to be true. Once she met with NOAHH’s Family Services staff and learned more about how the partnership works, though, she knew it was the right fit for her family.
Even before the build began, Nicole’s daughter had made up her mind on the color of her new room (mint green), and Nicole had big plans for her new back yard: “I’m sure my son is going to want one of those little swing sets with the slide, so I’ll probably have to look into one of those.”
“Working together, as different churches and congregations not only helps our beloved community, but strengthens our bond as people of faith” – Rev. Dr. Donald R. Frampton, Senior Pastor, St. Charles Ave. Presbyterian Church
Some of the faith groups who helped build Nicole’s home have long had a relationship with NOAHH. Until 2013, including before Hurricane Katrina, St. Charles Avenue Baptist Church was where NOAHH’s offices were located. Reverend Elizabeth Lott said of the relationship, “We were grateful to house Habitat for many years and witness first-hand their impact on the city of New Orleans. How exciting to bring that history and heartbeat together through the great work of Habitat, and joining together to invest in the life of the Pujol family and the neighborhood they will now call home.”
The Rev. Rob Courtney of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church and School said of the church’s motive to get involved, “As a congregation that experienced what it was like to be homeless for a time after Hurricane Katrina, we have felt a call to work with those who have been displaced. To help provide someone with a home that they could call their own and to work with them directly through Habitat is right up our alley.”
Nicole jokes that she was excited when she heard her home would be built through the Unity Build because she knew it would be extra-blessed. Not only is her home blessed by the many hands that touched each board and shingle and nail, the home also became a source of blessing for those who were brought together to build.
There are so many amazing congregations of all faiths working every day to build hope in New Orleans. Coming together through Unity Build allowed them to lift one another up and amplify their impact. Those who worked side by side to build Nicole’s home know that the house may be finished, but there’s still work to be done. Reverend Courtney said, “Our experiences have taught us that we’re not an island, that God’s work is already going on in the world around us, and that it’s our job to step outside our doors and join in. Unity Build allows us to know more of our neighbors in faith from around the city, make new friends, and gain new partners in mission.”
UNITY BUILD PARTNERS
Household of Faith Family Worship Church
Trinity Episcopal Church
St. Charles Avenue Presbyterian Church
St. Charles Avenue Baptist Church
First Baptist New Orleans
Lakeview Presbyterian Church
John Calvin Presbyterian Church
St. Paul’s Episcopal Church
The Sixth Baptist Church
Rayne Memorial United Methodist Church