Volunteers need to look at bigger picture

Published 12:00 am Monday, June 6, 2005

Suffolk Habitat for Humanity has always had heart. It shows week after week, when volunteers show up on build sites to raise walls and shingle roofs of

new homes for people in need.

It appears through the generosity of businesses that give their time, professional expertise and discounted materials to install air conditioning and heating systems.


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People are the heart of Suffolk Habitat; of any nonprofit organization, really.

It would have been easy to lose heart over the past few days, since South Hampton Roads Habitat for Humanity severed its relationship with former Suffolk project director Angela Koncz. The decision came after regional officials learned that Koncz had established a competing nonprofit, Building Suffolk Inc.

The incident appears to have driven a wedge between South Hampton Roads and veteran members of Suffolk Habitat. Upset by the regional office’s decision, several local volunteers have indicated they would stop work on the ongoing Charles Street project out of loyalty to Koncz.

Loyalty is almost always an admirable trait -one that is all too often lacking in today’s world. But this situation is an exception.

Anyone who stayed away from the Charles Street build this weekend because of recent events needs to refocus their attention on Rosemary Holmes, an elderly woman who is raising five special needs grandchildren. Holmes has been told to expect to be in her new home by the end of this month; whether she makes it depend on the hearts of Suffolk volunteers.

Several local volunteers joined those who came from other parts of Hampton Roads to work on Holmes’ long-awaited home this weekend. We applaud them for looking beyond the political bickering to the real heart of the matter and hope others will follow suit.

In the long term, there’s no reason that Habitat and Suffolk Building Inc. shouldn’t be able to peacefully coexist and work together for the common mission of providing affordable housing in this city. That’s what both organizations should be all about.