Habitat Newburgh Board member Chloe Reddick-Jackson recently spoke at our annual MLK Day of Service Luncheon.
What a great perspective.
My name is Chloe Reddick-Jackson, HFH Board Member, DEAI Committee Chair, and Walk for Housing
Committee Member. It is such an honor to be here with you today. I would like to thank you for donating your time to this
National Day of Service, as we celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
The US Bureau of Labor and Statistics states that 62.6 million people volunteer in an organization at
least once a year and the average person spends at least 52 hours per year volunteering. Each one of
those people volunteer for different reasons but for whatever the reason, it helps us to reach a common
goal. We’ve all decided to volunteer today because Habitat of Greater Newburgh feels like home.
Home for me is a small town in South Georgia called Americus, which is the county seat of Sumter
County. Maybe some of you have heard of Sumter County before. If you are a food enthusiast of
southern delicacies, it’s the home of the Pecan Pie which our county neighbor Paula Dean made famous.
If you are a sports fan, it’s the home of coaching football great Dan Reeves but if you’re like me, I simply
say two GREAT things came out of Sumter County, GA…it’s our 39th President Jimmy Carter and the
other is Habitat for Humanity.
When I think of home, I think about Saturday mornings as a child, I remember sitting in gatherings much
like Habitat Newburgh’s MLK Day of Service Luncheon where people in our community gathered for a
common cause. There were pastors, priests, teachers, football players, cheerleaders, bankers, farmers,
and many others standing together to complete a mission over a potluck dinner. Where people of all
walks and ages of life with different gifts, skills, and abilities brought themselves and what they had to a
job site to be used in one way or another. Those gatherings taught me the importance of diversity in a
community. That each member in those gatherings carried an invaluable role in the mission of
providing housing to Americus. That each member would process a piece of equity in the structure that
would stand at the completion of the task. One that each member would be proud to say, “I helped to
build that.” This simple notation of “having many hands is better than one” is the cornerstone on which
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. built the foundation of the Civil Rights Movement and is the same cornerstone
that supports our mission here at Habitat today.
One of my favorite Sunday school stories tells of a community coming together for a common goal.
Though it’s a biblical story, I believe its message is so impactful that if written today by any acclaimed
author, it would warrant a spot on the New York Times Best Sellers List. In 2 Kings Chapter 4, it tells of a
story of a widow who, when faced with life’s challenges, thinks to go to extreme measures to satisfy the
debt of her late husband. But with the guidance of the Prophet Elisha, she is instructed to call upon her
community for help. Her community provides vessels in which she can pour the oil that she had within
her own house. She was instructed to collect as many vessels as possible, because as long as there were
vessels to be filled…Our Creator would provide oil to pour. The oil in this story provided an economic
resource that changed the trajectory of her family and her community for generations to come.
The widow in this room reminds me of the homeowners we service within this great organization. When faced with life’s challenges they look to a community to come together and lend a hand. Each and every one of us in this room are vessels, being filled with the oil of a dream of our beloved Habitat. We lend our vessels so that we can be used in whichever capacity our organization needs. Maybe you can’t lay sheetrock or lay tile, but you can make a mean PB and J sandwich that can be given out on a job site. Or maybe you’re not an outdoor person but volunteer to make call after call to solicit donations from annual donors. So, on this National Day of Service, please remember that if there are vessels with hearts of servitude, coming together for a common goal, and willing to be filled, the mission of Habitat and Dr. Martin Luther King’s dream will continue to flow.