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Many Homes, One Community

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During my time as CEO of Habitat for Humanity International, I've been blessed with the opportunity to build homes in partnership with low-income families around the world. These visits continually bring home for me the idea that by working together we create stronger, closer and more resilient communities.

We have seen this clearly following the devastating disasters of the last decade -- most recently the 2010 earthquake in Haiti. The global community has come together with great generosity to help in recovery and rebuilding efforts. Similar collaborations are evident in the U.S. through Habitat's Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative. Our affiliates have entered into public-private partnerships and are joining with other organizations to provide holistic assistance to communities struggling with the toxic effects of multiple foreclosed properties.

As you read this today on World Habitat Day, neighbors are building side by side in towns and cities worldwide to help the families among us who are in need of decent housing. Each year, on the first Monday of October, Habitat for Humanity and other organizations observe the United Nations-designated World Habitat Day. It's a time to reflect on living conditions for all people and the importance of adequate shelter. You can join us.

I encourage everyone to take action and participate in community-led World Habitat Day activities. A number of organizations, including hundreds of Habitat affiliates worldwide, are hosting special events throughout the month of October to address the need for affordable and safe housing. Whether it's helping on a Habitat build site, cleaning up a neighborhood or advocating for policies that support shelter initiatives, we all have a part to play in making our communities a better place.

So what can you do right now to make a difference? Go online and sign Habitat's "Pledge to End Poverty Housing." This virtual petition calls on civic leaders to commit to build and renovate houses, make homeownership available to more families, keep more families in their current homes and assure high standards for safe and decent homes.

Habitat's vision of a world where everyone has a decent place to live rests on the idea of many homes, one community. Whether in response to disaster or conflict, or to the changing needs of the neighborhoods in which we live and work, Habitat brings people together to build homes, communities and hope. Together we can make a difference.

For more information on Habitat for Humanity events honoring World Habitat Day in your community, please visit http://www.habitat.org/whd/2012.