Darlington County Habitat for Humanity is literally and figuratively building a better Hartsville. To Mark Haenchen, executive director of Darlington County Habitat, it’s not just about building a house; it’s about ultimately building a community.
Coming up on 10 years in April as Executive Director, Haenchen still feels rewarded every time he hands over the keys to the next homeowner. With every new Habitat House that’s built, (and number 48 is on the way) Haenchen feels that they move closer to the overall goal, which is to “make sure everybody has a decent, affordable place to live.” One of the things that Haenchen said that he and Habitat believe is “if you can take the least and bring them up, you’re improving the whole community; you’re not just making a difference in one life, but in all of the surrounding lives as well.”
It’s more than building homes
Capable of building five houses a year, Habitat is focused on giving Darlington County a sense of community. As the executive director he has reached out across the community to build a network of cooperation and collaboration that helps build the homes and the infrastructure of caring that builds community. Haenchen is proud of what he sees happening from people donating stuffed animals to help police officers with domestic situations to people like United Way donating land on which to build the homes. The famous quote “it takes a village” comes to life when watching the Habitat crews achieve their various missions
Volunteers Make Habitat Happen
One of the things that Haenchen is most proud of is how Habitat treats its volunteers. Year after year people from around the country come back to Hartsville to volunteer to help build a community that they themselves have become a part of. Bnei Akiva, a group based out of New York City just came back in January to help out for its sixth straight year to put on some new roofs for residents in the Butler Heritage District. “Knowing we have a partnership, not just with volunteers but with the City of Hartsville and all those who have become invested in making Hartsville a better place to live,” Haenchen said is crucial to building not just a home for those in need, but a community for all involved.
Habitat Expanded Its Hartsville Mission
During the past year Habitat has expanded its mission from building single-family homes in Hartsville to partnering with the South Hartsville Neighborhood Association and the City of Hartsville to provide critical repairs to owner-owned homes for people of limited resources who have difficulty making their own repairs. “Because of the unbelievable support we have received from the community, there’s not much that we can’t achieve together,” Haenchen said.
This is part of a series of blog posts about nonprofit organizations in the Hartsville area written by Kyndle Cobb, intern for The Byerly Foundation