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Eric T. Chaffin
Eric T. Chaffin
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Doing Good by Doing Right with Habitat for Humanity

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At Chaffin Luhana, our motto is: “Doing good by doing right.” We believe in making things right for the injured plaintiffs we represent. We also take pride in helping many others benefit from our work when, for example, we help to get a dangerous product off the market. Our philosophy is something we feel so passionate about that it does not stop with our clients.

We recently closed our offices for a day to volunteer for Habitat for Humanity in Westchester County, New York, just above New York City. Our staff and attorneys worked together with Habitat building supervisors and Jim Killoran, the Director of Habitat for Humanity in Westchester, to lay tile, paint, and install siding.

Habitat for Humanity Began with Two People Concerned About Housing

Habitat for Humanity was founded in 1976 by Millard and Linda Fuller. A little over a decade before, the couple had left an affluent lifestyle in Alabama to begin a new life of service. They moved to a small community outside of Americus, Georgia, and discussed the idea of “partnership housing” with the founder of the community, Clarence Jordan.

At that time, the Fullers reportedly went over details such as funding for building costs and homeowners’ house payments. No-interest loans would be provided by supporters and money earned by fund-raising activities. Money for new houses would also come from this fund.

Over 500,000 Homes and Still Going

In 1973, the Fullers moved to Zaire to offer affordable shelter to 2,000 people through The Fund for Humanity. After years of successful work, they returned to the U.S. and in 1976, founded Habitat for Humanity.

President Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, got involved with Habitat for Humanity by helping to increase awareness and bring national attention to the organization. Today, according to the Habitat for Humanity web site, they have built more than 500,000 houses, sheltering 2.5 million people worldwide.

The True American Dream

Long before starting the organization, the Fullers attained the legendary American Dream. Millard Fuller had become a millionaire at age 29. Instead of growing comfortable with their wealth, the Fuller’s sold all their possessions and gave their money to the poor before they moved to Georgia to seek a life that was more rewarding on a personal and spiritual level.

Chaffin Luhana and Westchester Habitat for Humanity

Doing rewarding work is something most of us strive for, but do not often achieve. In the legal profession, we often see self-interests, profits over people and corporate battles to preserve public reputations getting in the way of doing what is really right. The work for the people can sometimes be frustrating and exhausting in the face of this opposition, but in the end, it is always worthwhile when you can help someone.

Our firm’s building experience in August with Habitat for Humanity was uplifting for all involved. Our staff was initially skeptical about their carpentry abilities but they truly enjoyed the experience and some have since began volunteering on their own with other charitable organizations, including New York Cares. Habitat for Humanity’s motto is: “A hand up, not a hand out.” As we were working down on our hands and knees – something uniquely different for many of us in the legal profession – we could not help but think that a hand up is what most of us need at some point in our lives. The great thing about that is that no matter what side you are on – giving or receiving that hand – you end up all the better for it.

We also met the homeowner whose house we worked on in August, Rose, who was very appreciative of our work and is excited to move into the home with her mother and kids, who have been living in different states since her husband passed away. The house will allow the family to come back together under one roof.

In addition to working on Rose’s house, the Chaffin Luhana Foundation made a $2,500 donation to Habitat for Humanity to help build other homes in Westchester County and in Haiti, which is the foreign country for whom the Westchester chapter of Habitat for Humanity services.

When we finished our job during our volunteer day, our accomplishments felt just as uplifting as when we help our injured clients. If you or your organization is considering a service project, I would highly encourage you to do one and consider Habitat for Humanity. It is truly a rewarding experience on many levels for all involved and you will feel good about helping very deserving individuals.