Our Better Angels. Finished 1-28-19, 4.25/5 stars, volunteerism, 223 pages, pub. 2019
In this first-ever book for adults from Habitat for Humanity, CEO Jonathan Reckford shares moving and inspiring stories of ordinary people whose lives have been changed by working together to help one another. And he shows what we can all learn from these everyday heroes.
Having witnessed people beat back the storms of life, Reckford came to see how we can all find our better selves by tapping into seven old-fashioned virtues—kindness, generosity, community, empowerment, respect, joy, and service. And he came to see how the strength gained from these virtues can help each of us build our best selves in ways that impact all areas of our lives—from our careers to our families, from how we behave in our communities to how we see the world.
With a separate chapter devoted to each of these seven virtues, Reckford introduces us to remarkable people Habitat has served, like Jed, whose family received a Habitat home and who could barely wait to donate it back Habitat to help others in need. And we also meet volunteers like Vic, a veteran who was inspired to return to Vietnam to help build housing there. Each vivid story in this book carries its own lesson and epiphany – to help readers find their own better angels.
The book begins with an inspirational foreword by Jimmy Carter. from Goodreads
There are few public figures I respect as much as Jimmy Carter. He and Rosalynn’s commitment to service, well into their 90’s with health issues as an added hurdle, inspires me. He is known for his work with Habitat for Humanity and he writes the moving Foreword for this book filled with Habitat stories.
Jonathan Reckford shares the stories of the volunteers who have helped build Habitat homes and the recipients who have been given new leases on life by receiving one. He breaks them up into seven sections; kindness, community, empowerment, joy, respect, generosity, and service. I would be hard pressed to choose a favorite story, or even two, but I was left with new insight to how people live around the world and even here in the United States. I read one short story every morning for about a month and a few stuck out for me in their ability to make me feel another place, another way of life. In Romania a small village had the good fortune to have a woman who discovered the organization and it changed her village forever. In Africa, the picture of a family of 14 living in one big tent with muddy floors was hard to imagine. In India, neighbors of different religions at odds with each other came together to work side by side as people. And in Vietnam, soldiers once sent there for war return to make peace with the people and the land.
I loved this book as an easy to read inspirational collection of stories full of people who are changing the world. And the best part is that you can be a part of it. If you’ve never volunteered at a Habitat house you should give them a call and see what you can do. There is no one less handy around the home than me and years ago I volunteered with a group of women at local home going up. I helped with a few different things, but spent most of the day caulking, after instruction of course. I was out my element, but was welcomed and left feeling not only like I’d helped in a small way but also that I’d learned a few new things about building a house. I’ve already told Jason that in the spring we’d start having a few dates at Habitat homes 🙂 All proceeds from the book go to the organization.