Learn how Habitat for Humanity empowers and changes lives
Habitat for Humanity has changed my life in so many positive ways as a volunteer and Global Village traveler. I’m honored to call Margaret and Miguel Rubiera my mentors, Habitat ‘heroes’ and friends. They were kind enough to share how they’ve dedicated their lives to support Habitat for Humanity – along with the many blessings that came along with that decision. Here are highlights from our conversation:
- You have a such a rich history with Habitat for Humanity, however, it was not always a central part of your life. Would you mind sharing what inspired your decision to make the transition from your corporate career to life in the non-profit sector?
Miguel: I was working in the Textile industry and traveling a lot. My focus was on providing for the family. At that time, I didn’t really have the time to think about helping others. Margaret started volunteering with Habitat while we were living in Greensboro and she decided to go on a Global Village trip to Honduras. She is a determined woman and was going on the trip – with or without me. To be honest, I was a bit skeptical at first and didn’t want her to go alone (meaning without me). Fortunately for me, I decided to join her. It was like a ‘road to Damascus’ experience. I had been to Honduras before on business visiting textile factories, corporate offices and staying in hotels – however, I had never seen the people or had the opportunity to understand how they live. That first Global Village trip in 2001 “was 100% transformative. It changed my life”.
Margaret: We knew we were being called to help others…and we knew our lives would never be the same. After meeting and working with the Honduran people we fell in love with the (Habitat Global Village) ministry. We came back from the trip and were ready to change the world. We were on FIRE!
- What do you consider the main sacrifices and rewards associated with your commitment to a ‘Habitat life ‘with Miguel’s role as Executive Director of Habitat in Durham , North Carolina?
In 2005, we made the leap to focus fully on Habitat leaving corporate life behind. It took courage to make that move. We downsized to a smaller house and reduced our standard of living. The result wasn’t a sacrifice. We were just sorry we hadn’t done it sooner!
Miguel: God has blessed us with such opportunities that others around the world do not have.
Margaret: It is such a privilege to be entrusted to do this work. It is just so much fun…it’s rewarding, energizing to be a part of something that makes a difference.
Miguel: It makes you happier and it is rewarding – however, the bigger part is that you gain more respect for yourself.
- Given I’ve had an opportunity to travel and volunteer with your daughter and son-in-law, this commitment to service is truly a family affair. Tell us a bit more about your family and their involvement with Habitat.
Well, it has been a family affair for certain. It is such fun to share (this experience) with our kids and grandchildren. They are so enthusiastic. Here is an overview….
- Our son and daughter-in-law joined us first.
- Our daughter, Myra, and her husband followed in 2008. In all, Myra has been on 3 Global Village trips with us.
- Her daughter Meg, our granddaughter, has also been on 3 Global Village trips.
- And our family supported each of the Pink Ribbon builds both financially and volunteering in Durham.
4. Is there an accomplishment or event that you are most proud of / or consider most meaningful?
Miguel: To see the results of the work. To see that people can live with dignity in their own home.
- Since Miguel has retired as Executive Director, how have you continued to stay involved with Habitat and what keeps you at it?
We volunteer most Saturdays…often several other days throughout the week either landscaping, building bookshelves for the new Habitat families or volunteering on the build site. And we continue to lead trips to Honduras each year.
Margaret: It is a wonderful sense of connection. When you’re on a build we’re all on the same level whether you’re the President of a large bank, a lawyer, a student or a future homeowner. There is beauty in the harmony and it makes such a difference in life. My favorite part is getting to know people. I love the connection and smiles and hugs.
As you can see, this couple has made an immense contribution to Habitat positively impacting the lives of so many – here in the U.S. and in Honduras.
UNITED STATES – North Carolina
- Number of years of service: 16 years (6 years as staff + 10 years as volunteers)
- Homes built (during Durham Exec Dire tenure): 150 builds + 100 repairs
- Pink Ribbon homes: 3 home builds funded and led in 3 years
- Landscapes / gardens: Approximately 200 homes in Durham + Greensboro
- Bookshelves and Books (in collaboration with Book Harvest): Volunteer to help hand-craft bookshelves and supply books for each Durham home dedication
HONDURAS – Santa Rosa de Copan
- Number of Global Village of trips: 25th trip will be in 2017
- Number of volunteers on their trips: ~425 Global Village volunteers
- Number of homes built to date: ~60 homes via Global Village Builds; in addition to financial support to purchase land for an additional 300 homes
“Habitat for Humanity’s global mission is made possible thanks to volunteers like the Rubieras who so often give their time and talent,” said Mark Andrews, vice president, volunteer and institutional engagement, Habitat for Humanity International. “The personal transformation reported by the Rubieras family is such an important aspect of our work at Habitat. Their commitment and those of nearly 2 million other volunteers around the world make it possible for us to look forward to another year of creating a safe and decent place that families can call home.”
Resources for more information and to get involved:
Habitat for Humanity https://www.habitat.org and
Habitat for Humanity Giving Tuesday: www.habitat.org/GivingTuesday
Giving Tuesday website and @
Habitat Global Village
Pink Ribbon Builds – Durham, North Carolina