News Archive

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10/24/2019 › LIVING OUT THE "LONG OBEDIENCE IN THE SAME DIRECTION:" URBANA HIGH SCHOOL, OCT. 2019
On Saturday evening, Oct. 12, a crew of 20 volunteers from Urbana (IL) High School arrived at the Habitat dorm, and I was very happy to see them. There is a long history here—I actually graduated from this high school 51 years ago—but that’s a peripheral feature of the narrative. The group was led by UHS teachers Mark Foley and Laura Koritz (ably assisted by Taryn Smith and Sara Jones), and Mark and Laura are the real story. Read More ›

10/14/2019 › THE CULMINATION OF A LONG JOURNEY
In 1999, Margaret Brown received a phone call from Orrden Williams, longtime CAHFH board member and member of the Homeowner Selection Committee. His message to Ms. Margaret was short and sweet: “You have been selected by our committee to be the newest Habitat partner.” The news was greeted by a joyful shriek on the other end of the phone, and a new chapter was about to begin in the housing saga of Margaret Brown. Read More ›

8/16/2019 › THE SUCCESSFUL END TO A CHALLENGING CHAPTER: SFX GROUP #3
As we end the construction year in Clarksdale (too hot for any more building until the fall), it seems good and right to see this time as the end of a chapter. Since the beginning of 2019, friends of CAHFH from all over the world have rallied to help save the affiliate, and these efforts have been richly rewarded. During the trying 7 months between January and July, we have succeeded in reconstituting an invigorated board of committed members representing our major constituencies, we have paid off the lion’s share of the debt left at the end of the year, we have obtained insurance for all of our homeowners and have pioneered new ways of involving and affirming them, and, to top it all off, we have found an umbrella organization that will embrace us Read More ›

7/23/2019 › SOME PEOPLE REALLY KNOW HOW TO HAVE FUN:  SFX  GROUP #2
On Saturday, July 13, the second of the three St. Francis Xavier (LaGrange, IL) groups—led by Oscar Longoria, Mary Freeman, Katie Filbin, Anne Metzger, and Keith Kelly, and consisting of their various (younger) children and a friend—arrived in Clarksdale, primed and ready for their week of worship-through-work. Read More ›

7/17/2019 › THANKS TO OUR DONORS
As most readers of this website know, CAHFH is and always has been utterly dependent on the generosity of its friends, too numerous to list individually. Lately, that reality has been beautifully manifested in an effort spearheaded by Jeff Brown, father of Uni alum and Habitat Club volunteer, Maddie Brown. Read More ›

7/8/2019 › GRADUATION AND A BEAUTIFUL YARD
Chyna Sykes graduates from Clarksdale High School and Bertha Stewart wins landscaping recognition! Read More ›

6/29/2019 › HOT TIMES IN THE DELTA
Braving the summer heat, the first group of intrepid volunteers from St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church, LaGrange, IL arrived in the Delta on June 22. Consisting of two chronologically successful (we don’t use the term, "older") veterans, Pete Mulcahey and Ron Bandyk, and 11 younger volunteers, they immediately dove into the challenges of the week, which first consisted of doing the Habitat history tour in the heat of a June afternoon. Read More ›

6/26/2019 › COAHOMA COUNTY HISTORY AND JOHN MILTON BROWN
The recent history of the Habitat affiliates in the Delta and the need for its programs are part of a larger and equally important story. Though the Delta is widely celebrated as the home of the blues, few people are asking about the context of that significant cultural development—why, in other words, was music like the blues somehow necessary here in the Delta? Read More ›

6/25/2019 › TIME FOR A LITTLE HISTORY
Last month, USA Today named Clarksdale the "4th Best Little Historical Town" in the United States. Begging the question of just exactly how USA Today has the authority to make such judgments and to bestow such titles (and still believing that Clarksdale deserved the award of "BEST Little Historical Town" in the US), we have decided to go with the USA Today flow and offer some evidence as to why. Read More ›

6/10/2019 › ONLY YOU CAN PREVENT...
While we await the arrival of three more groups from the beautiful parish of St. Francis Xavier parish, we (the royal we) feel compelled to ask for financial help again. Now that the summer has arrived and the dreaded phenomenon known as “dweltering” (sweltering in the Delta heat) is upon us, a number of our homeowners have been reporting problems with their cooling units. Read More ›

6/9/2019 › THE SAINTS COME MARCHIN’ IN—TO CLARKSDALE!
At the end of May, CAHFH had an unexpected opportunity to host a small group from St. Benedict’s Academy, Newark NJ on an extended “field trip” through the South, studying Civil Rights history and visiting significant historical sites related to that history. Last week, we also welcomed a group of our long-time volunteer allies from St. Dennis Catholic Church in Lockport, IL. Read More ›

5/9/2019 › THE MISSISSIPPI DELTA, MUSIC, AND HABITAT FOR HUMANITY
There is something primal about the Delta, for good and for ill—there’s an ineffable and unmediated energy that permeates the place and attracts people from all walks of life and from all manner of places. The Delta is alive with light and darkness, exuding hints of holiness as well as deep undercurrents of unhappiness. It is, after all, the well-documented birthplace of the blues as well as the inspirational home of gospel music. Read More ›

5/4/2019 › Potlucks and More
One of the challenges of righting the CAHFH ship has been to revitalize life-giving interactions between the homeowners and other community members and the out-of-town volunteers. While this dynamic had been an integral part of the Habitat experience over the years, an unfortunate disconnect had gradually developed. One way to address that issue was to work at resurrecting the potluck experience. Read More ›

5/1/2019 › The House on Bolivar
In January, CAHFH was forced to foreclose on a property. It was the first time in years that the organization had had to take such a drastic step, and those events are always tragic—obviously for the foreclosed-upon, who undoubtedly need no further trauma in their lives, but also for the entire organization. Nobody gets into Habitat work so they can come down on the disadvantaged and any such action is just wretched. Read More ›

4/20/2019 › Habitat for Humanity Mission of St. Francis Xavier
The Habitat mission of St. Francis was started a quarter of a century ago as a Catholic connection between the sisters of St. Joseph working both in LaGrange Park, IL and in Clarksdale, Mississippi. The parish of St. Elizabeth in Clarksdale needed sisters from other areas to educate their students. Mercy nuns from St. Louis, and representatives from our local order of sisters began teaching students at St. Elizabeth’s. Read More ›

3/15/2019 › New York City
At the end of February, I found myself in NYC, to participate in a wine-and-cheese fundraiser for Spring Initiative, the Habitat-originated dynamic and innovative afterschool program in Clarksdale for at-risk kids. To say that this occasion was an anomaly would be to exploit the obvious, as I have always made it clear that I want nothing to do with NYC, and my short time there did nothing to change my mind. Read More ›

3/1/2019 › Uni High Habitat Trip
My desperate plea for help in February has resulted in an outpouring of support that has genuinely encouraged me. The need remains critical, but we are certainly not giving up. And, in the meantime, we had a great time with out first volunteer group of the year (and my tenure) as my former employer, Uni High, sent a crew to the Delta for the 23rd straight year. Read More ›