Habitat for Humanity of Greenville County receives 2022 Healthcare Transformation Award
by J. Morgan McCallum
Habitat for Humanity of Greenville County builds healthy homes and communities
Click here to watch the video that accompanies the article from TOWN’s November Giving Issue!
Doors—and arms—are always open at Habitat for Humanity of Greenville County, where Monroe Free, president and CEO, leads a passionate team of staff and volunteers. Together, the team is dedicated to transforming Upstate communities for the better by building homes in all areas of Greenville County.
The [philosophy] that drives Habitat for Humanity is simple: when a family can afford their mortgage, they can afford healthcare. “They don’t have to choose between paying the rent and buying groceries,” adds Free. Affordable ownership offers more than basic needs: “I had a mother tell me once that the biggest difference her home has made is that she gets to spend time with her children now. Before, she had to work three jobs just to pay the rent—not anymore. Think about the emotional impact that makes.”
Free is fierce in his belief that Habitat is the foundation for individual and social change. “Affordable home ownership is at the root of solving every other social issue that Greenville County has. Healthcare is impacted. Education is impacted. Community engagement is impacted. All the things that we need to work on as a culture . . . all are affected greatly by where and how one lives. We can move toward a better place by providing affordable housing and home ownership to families.”
Prisma Health has been a proud sponsor of the Healthcare Transformation Award for several years—just one aspect of the organization’s foundational role in the well-being of the Upstate. “Habitat for Humanity’s work is vitally important to Greenville County,” reflects Mark O’Halla, president and CEO of Prisma Health.
Like Free, O’Halla sees housing as part of a larger picture: “Housing insecurity impacts all areas of life, including healthcare, nutrition, transportation, and education,” he says. “As president and CEO of Habitat for Humanity of Greenville County, Monroe Free has led efforts to eliminate housing insecurity by connecting families, community partners, and volunteers to construct affordable, energy-efficient homes. Monroe is a transformational leader with a passion for promoting dignity and hope. He exemplifies the true essence of the Healthcare Transformation Award.”
“My new home doesn’t smell. That’s what a group of women once told me was one of the biggest differences they’d noticed,” reveals Free. “They all shook their heads in agreement, and I asked what they meant—how it impacted the health of their family. And one mom spoke up to say that her son has asthma, but since they’d moved into their new Habitat house, he wasn’t having symptoms anymore. Another mom said we don’t get upper respiratory infections all the time. It hit me—what they remember from those other homes was mold and mildew, things that directly affect a person’s health. So, just being in a healthy environment makes a huge difference in a family’s wellbeing.”
30 = 300: “In our first thirty years of existence, Habitat served 300 families,” says Free, “and in the seven years since then, we’ve served 325 more families.”
55: Amount of repair jobs that will be completed by their Home Preservation program this year, which helps owners (especially seniors) maintain their homes rather than relocate.
30,000: Number of hours the volunteers at Habitat for Humanity of Greenville County have generously donated to the cause in 2021 alone.
1/3 of Habitat’s Budget: The amount of revenue that their ReStore locations account for by offering discounted new and used household items and building materials to the public, preventing these from going to the landfill.
New Home, New Quilt: For more than fifteen years, the Nimble Thimble Quilter’s Guild has gifted a new quilt to every family that has moved into a Habitat home.Back to News