Remarks by Tom Gipson at the William D. Littleford Award for Corporate Community Service luncheon Nov. 19, 2008, Chicago, Ill.:

One of the challenges I have faced, and all of us face, is how best to give back to our communities. Habitat’s Home Builders Blitz has helped many in the home-building community meet that challenge.

In 2002, I challenged 11 of my competitors in Raleigh to join me and each build a home for Habitat for free by asking our subs and suppliers to join us in this effort. The program was so successful we doubled the effort and built 24 homes in 2003. 

I then approached Habitat International with the goal of making this a national effort. My dream was to build 1,000 homes. Habitat embraced the Home Builders Blitz program because it would add homes to the ones built using the standard Habitat model. They moved two staff to Raleigh to work on this new program. Over the next two years, we traveled to more than 50 cities to meet with builders and Habitat affiliates. 

In the first week of June 2006, we built 459 homes in 130 cities throughout our country. Folks, dreams can come true. My dream, and more importantly, the dreams of the 459 families that moved into these homes, had come true. Even more impressive, in the first week of June this year, in the face of the worst housing recession in history, home builders throughout our country built 263 Habitat homes. The value of the homes built so far, a gift from the home builders to their communities, is approximately $50 million.

There is a great need both in our country and our world for simple, decent, affordable housing.

One out of every three city dwellers -- nearly a billion people -- lives in a slum.

There are almost 16 million Americans paying 50 percent or more of their income for housing.

There is not a single county in the country where a full-time minimum wage worker can afford even a one-bedroom apartment.

In North Carolina, 9,000 households go without heat in the winter; and more than 13,000 homes still lack indoor plumbing.

Approximately 48,000 North Carolinians are living in shelters.

One out of every three Americans living in substandard housing is a child.

We all know of the power of the press. You have the power. Hanley Wood and  Builder Magazine helped us by using their power. They have provided 24 pages of advertising to promote our effort. They have supported us in editorials. They have supported us with articles. They have been, and continue to be, an important partner in our program.

Please use your power to help make our world a better place for us all. Thank you.

Learn more about markets featured in this article: Chicago, IL.