Habitat for Humanity Interview

May 3, 2021 8:34:13 AM / by IMOTO photo

This month, we are celebrating Habitat for Humanity and their nonprofit work in affordable housing and sustainable development.

Habitat for Humanity Logo

The Background Behind the Organization

What is Habitat for Humanity? 

Habitat for Humanity is a nonprofit organization with a mission to help people through the creation of affordable housing. In addition to building and improving homes, the organization advocates for affordable housing by challenging the policies and systems create barriers for affordable living. Habitat for Humanity believes that strong and vibrant communities go hand-in-hand with affordable housing, and that everyone on earth should have a decent place to live.

How did Habitat for Humanity Come About?

The history of Habitat for Humanity starts with farmer and biblical scholar, Clarence Jordan, who resided in a small town in Georgia. On Jordan’s farm, he and the now founders of Habitat for Humanity came up with the idea of "conceptual housing" - the idea of creating affordable housing alongside the help of volunteers for people who need a place to live.

Chapter Feature: Hilton Head Habitat for Humanity 

IMOTO has the amazing opportunity to volunteer with the Hilton Head Habitat for Humanity this month as part of a build with Keller Williams Lowcountry. To learn more about the Hilton Head Chapter, we interviewed 2 key members of their team: Brenda Dooley and Rebecca Ruggles. Brenda is the Executive Director and Rebecca is the Director of Communications of the Habitat for Humanity Hilton Head Chapter. 

Read the interview:

Q: I see that the Hilton Head Habitat for Humanity chapter focuses on affordable housing and sustainable development. Can you tell me more about Habitat for Humanity’s involvement in housing and creating shelter? 

Brenda: Families apply to be part of the program. These families go through an intensive application process to be part of the program and we look at their background, credit and their willingness to be part of the program as well. They have to participate in hundreds of hours of volunteer work. What makes it a success is they work with the volunteers who are working to build their homes. 

Q: What are some ways people can volunteer with the Hilton Head Habitat for Humanity chapter?


  • Construction: People can volunteer to help build homes. We welcome folks with little experience or any kind of experience. 
  • Thrift Store: People can get rid of things they no longer need by bringing them to our thrift store and keeping these items out of landfills. Volunteers are needed for help with pricing, customer service and cashiering.  
  • Mentorship: When we select new families, we match them up with a mentor who helps them through the program and explains how to get equity hours in and what to do with kids while they are working on the site.

Q: How did you get involved with Habitat for Humanity? What makes this chapter stand out? 

Brenda: I spent many years working for the United Way in Omaha, NE. I was ready for a new adventure and moved to Hilton Head Island and began working at Habitat for Humanity. I like working directly with the families at Habitat for Humanity.

Rebecca: I went to school for nonprofit management. Its always been my dream to work in the nonprofit sector. It was a big appeal to come to Habitat and work directly with people. I'm new to this area and there is an obvious need for affordable housing here. What is so special is housing is something that amplifies people being set up for success. To be able to afford their own mortgage, they now have more money available for healthcare, education and supporting the needs for their children. 

What is your favorite part about working here? 

Brenda: What makes it so successful is the families are so engaged in helping themselves. They are part of the process from the very beginning. When they come to us, they are starting with us from the very beginning. They are also coming in as homeowners who are trusting us with their mortgage payments. We get to see children who start out as babies and toddlers and pretty soon they're driving over and asking about the mortgage and insurance for their parents. Seeing them go through that process and become adults on their own and have stability is very important to me. 

Rebecca: Interacting with our families and working closely with them is so touching, moving and exciting to me. We get to see how hard these families are working, especially during COVID-19. We were helping essential workers and seeing how hard they are working and making the time to sit in their volunteer hours and educational classes was inspiring. They had this dream of homeownership and their mortgage goes back into supporting others in the future. By working alongside community members, they become part of this philanthropic movement here with people in Hilton Head. 

To learn more about the Hilton Head Habitat for Humanity Chapter, click here. 

IMOTO photo

Written by IMOTO photo