Habitat for Humanity International’s first volunteer, Clive Rainey, is coming to Tacoma to share highlights and stories from his 35 years of working with Habitat on projects throughout the world. Rainey will be at Immanuel Presbyterian Church on Tuesday, April 24 at 7 p.m. Admission is free. Immanuel Presbyterian is located a 901 N. 'J' St.
Rainey joined Habitat for Humanity International on April 1, 1977, soon after the organization was formed, as its first volunteer. One of his early duties was serving as chair of the family selection committee for the house-building program of Koinonia, a rural Christian community where the idea of building homes in partnership with the poor was conceived. It was Rainey who brought the concept of “Sweat Equity” to Koinonia—and ultimately Habitat – after learning that developers of middle-class housing sometimes used a family’s unskilled labor on their house in lieu of a down payment. Today “Sweat Equity” is a key part of every Habitat build in 80 countries worldwide.
During his 35 years of service with Habitat, Rainey has traveled the worked and has challenged Habitat affiliates to serve as leaders in their own communities in the effort to eliminate substandard housing. He has urged affiliates to plan for and work towards significant increases in their own housing production and to create collaborative partnerships with other housing providers, local governments, civic groups, churches and other organizations and individuals in order to meet Habitat’s goal of eliminating substandard housing worldwide. Through his work, Rainey helped to make Habitat for Humanity one of the most recognized brands in the world.
Now retired as a paid staff member of Habitat, Rainey has moved to Guatemala, where Habitat Guatemala has built more than 35,000 homes. Rainey plans to be involved with Habitat Guatemala as a volunteer for the rest of his life and with a ministry rescuing homeless children from the streets and providing them with the necessities of life, from housing, clothing and food to educational opportunities.
It is not his unmatched seniority or his status as Habitat’s very first volunteer that has endeared him to so many, but his passion and his stories about the work. While many enthusiasms fade with time, his fervor for the mission of eliminating poverty housing has only grown. So too, has his commitment to igniting that passion in others.