Habitat for Humanity was founded in 1976 by Millard and Linda Fuller, countercultural Christians who decided to take Jesus seriously when He promised His followers abundant life through serving God with their whole hearts and loving their neighbors as themselves. From its inception, HFH called Christians to take loving actions based on their faith in Jesus even as they enthusiastically welcomed everyone, regardless of faith commitments, who wanted to join them in their vision for partnering with the disadvantaged by “providing decent homes for God’s people in need,” as one of the early slogans put it. Over the succeeding decades, HFH has grown to become a significant international presence in the fight to provide affordable housing for all.
Clarksdale Area Habitat for Humanity is one of four small affiliates in Coahoma County (the others being Coahoma, Farrell-Sherard, and Jonestown) located in the famed Mississippi Delta in the northwest corner of the state. Though the land here is as fertile as any in the world, the Delta has long been identified as and continues to be one of the poorest areas in America. Because of these material deficits, CAHFH and the other local affiliates have long welcomed and depended on volunteers from all over the world, providing in the process homes for the materially disadvantaged and inspiration for the spiritually lost. At the same time, the Habitat affiliates of Coahoma County have proven to be an effective avenue for indigenous leadership to emerge and blossom, with local Habitat leaders like Dorothy Jenkins, Washington Jones, Juanita Burnett and Ben Williams providing guidance and inspiration for the many volunteers who have marveled at and been inspired by their gifts, talents, and love. The result has been a unique combination of local participation, outside volunteer devotion, and the creation of Habitat communities that challenge and occasionally transcend the usual barriers of race and class. As of 2018, these affiliates have built well over 100 homes in Coahoma County and its operations have benefitted both the organization at large and the local community through social justice programs that have sprung out of the Habitat experience. As of 2018, over 350,000 students have now participated in HFH’s renowned Collegiate Challenge Program, sending college volunteers all over the world on their Spring Breaks, which was pioneered here in tiny Coahoma. And in Coahoma County itself, Habitat veterans have relocated here to found innovative, dedicated, and nationally-renowned afterschool programs like Spring Initiative and Griot Arts.