A Journey from Luxury Villas to Affordable Housing

In 2005, when I joined the Habitat for Humanity team, coming from the for-profit construction sector, my friends told me that I was crazy because I was giving “luxury villas for affordable housing”.

Crazy or not, I wanted to combine the experience of commercial activity with the ideals of one of the most well known international nongovernmental organizations and looking back I can say that the experience of working for Habitat for Humanity was exceptional not only professionally, but especially from the human point of view.

Colorful HousesNot many can boast that a day on the job could give them the opportunity and satisfaction of meeting such a large variety of people, from the members of the team that I coordinated, to the international volunteers who came on “holiday” to the Habitat for Humanity construction site and to the partner families who were happy to work on their own homes.

Not many had the chance to share with disadvantaged families the excitement of moving in a new house or have the joy of being able to make other people happy.

And not many have had the luck to work with so many people who really put their heart and souls into their work, like I had.

Since its establishment in 2001 through 2004, Habitat for Humanity assisted 24 families by providing them with renovated apartments. In the period between 2005 to 2011, I succeeded in increasing more than ten times the number of assisted families and expanded the types of interventions from apartment renovations to building new houses, thermal rehabilitations, home additions, water supply and disaster relief.

Under my management, Habitat for Humanity Pitesti developed relations and signed partnerships with national and local authorities, business associations, universities, high schools, and many other governmental, commercial and non-profit organizations.

The excellent relationship developed with the local authorities gave me the opportunity in 2007 to negotiate and sign a partnership with the Local Council of Oarja, which gave Habitat for Humanity Pitesti the free use of two plots of land, which were used to build 16 affordable housing units. This project was finished successfully and was followed by a second partnership signed in 2010 giving Habitat for Humanity Pitesti free land to build more affordable houses for families in need.

In the financial management field I succeeded to increase the activity and results of the organization in the conditions that the expenses were constantly decreased. In my mandate, Habitat for Humanity Pitesti applied and obtained over $25,000 in grants from Peace Corps and the US Embassy and over $75,000 in donations from different local and international organizations.

Happy HousesOther activities:

  • Successfully organized and managed large local events with over 200 volunteers and coordinated the hosting of over 50 corporate and international volunteer teams;
  • Initiated and helped to develop a youth organization with over 50 active members;
  • Initiated and managed a diverse range of community development programs: mentoring programs for disadvantaged youth, educational programs for disadvantaged families, youth community involvement programs and on-job qualification programs in constructions for young orphans.

Six years later, I left Habitat for Humanity for a one year fellowship in the United States. Being permanently concerned about increasing my abilities and knowledge in specialized training, I was happy when the Romanian-U.S. Fulbright Commission announced at the beginning of 2011 that I was awarded with a Hubert H. Humphrey Fellowship in Economical Development at Michigan State University, U.S.A. by the Institute of International Education in Washington D.C.

This was the best opportunity for me to expand my horizons in the social development field at an international level and to acquire experience in working in multi-disciplinary teams and multicultural environments.

During this fellowship program I had the opportunity to participate in workshops and conferences, related to the economic development field, which provided me with interaction with leaders from United States federal, state and local governments, multinational organizations, and the private sector.

As part of the same program I had a professional affiliation with the Office of Housing and Community Development, County Of Hawaii, U.S.A., where I conducted public policy research regarding housing and community development for disadvantaged ethnic groups (a comparison between land and housing issues of native Hawaiian population in the United States and Roma population in Romania).

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