On February 6, 2020 Habitat for Humanity of Greater Los Angeles (Habitat LA) had the privilege to host Habitat for Humanity International’s CEO Jonathan Reckford during his California book tour. Some of Habitat LA’s longtime supporters were invited to Baleen Kitchen in Redondo Beach, for an intimate meet and greet breakfast and book signing with the Habitat leader. In his new book, Our Better Angels: Seven Simple Virtues That Will Change Your Life and the World, Jonathan shares stories of Habitat volunteers and future homeowners and the powerful benefits that arise when people from all walks of life work together to help one another.
During the meet and greet, Jonathan spoke of the individuals he has met during his time with Habitat, all of whom embody seven timeless virtues — kindness, community, empowerment, joy, respect, generosity and service. In his book, Our Better Angels, he shares their stories and how we all can work to improve the quality of our own lives as well as the lives of those around us.
He also shared about housing being the number one problem in America. Housing is the foundation for the kind of life we want to live. Jonathan highlighted how Habitat has been making great strides to address the need for affordable housing and has had an extraordinary work of impact, and yet there is still an urgent need for more. Habitat for Humanity has a demonstrative model with a rare ability to bridge gaps and bring different groups together. Jonathan explained that he feels that housing is so complicated it can only be solved by a multi-stakeholder and multi-sector approach. No one group can do it alone, it takes everyone.
Habitat’s mission is to help everyone. Habitat is the most trusted and friendly face in affordable housing, with a brand value of $15.6 billion dollars. Jonathan encouraged guests to think about what can be done to meaningfully reduce the housing crisis in the areas we serve. Habitat’s mission is rooted in showing God’s love in action by bringing people together.
“Habitat breaks down barriers between historically divided groups,” Reckford explained. “Habitat is the safe place where people of different backgrounds come together to build relationships that appeal to their common values.”
Jonathan described how he and President Carter, a long-time Habitat Humanitarian, came to work on the book Our Better Angels. “President Carter wrote, after disasters all those divisions disappear and you don’t care if a person coming to help rescue you is of a different faith or race, you are just excited they are there to help.” He spoke of the amazing feeling of community after a disaster with neighbors helping neighbors and everyone working together.
“President Lincoln coined the term ‘when the waters rise, so do our better angels.’ Why can’t we behave like that all the time and tackle with the same spirit and the same approach,“ Reckford expressed. “This [book] is about heart. Data is critical but stories change hearts.”
Jonathan opened the floor to the many guests of diverse backgrounds but all common supporters of Habitat to share their stories. The group discussed how each person could immediately promote change in breaking down barriers even when fear is the biggest challenge. The guests were all smiles and rejuvenated at the conclusion of the meet and greet.
“He leads Habitat with a servant’s heart, and he puts his faith in action and doesn’t let us forget about the faith part of our mission,” Erin Rank, President and CEO of Habitat LA said. “The Habitat ministry as a whole has really grown under his leadership.”
With Habitat LA’s 30th anniversary and year-long celebration this year of building better futures in Los Angeles, Jonathan’s visit set the tone for us all to embrace with passion the calling of our better angels to change the way we take care of ourselves, our families, our communities and the world.
Our Better Angels can be purchased in-store and online. 100% percent of the sale proceeds will directly support the work of Habitat.