Ann will retire this summer after serving as the executive director of Wichita Habitat for Humanity for 10 years. While her leadership has an incredible impact on all of us, it’s also touched Ann, in many ways. Ann shares the impact her service has had on her life. Join us for a retirement celebration June 17, from 5-7 p.m. at Naftzer Park. Come and go, with a program at 6 p.m.
By Ann Fox/Executive Director
I have had the honor and privilege to have a 360-degree view of Wichita Habitat for Humanity’s ministry for almost 10 years. As I make final preparations for my retirement this summer I ask you to indulge me as I reflect on the impact this work has had on me. The short version is; it all has to do with relationships.
My relationship with God has changed. I talk with God more. I trust Him more and myself less. I worry less. The Christian values at the heart of this ministry are the foundation that make it strong. It is clear that this work is God’s work, and as hard as we might labor for what we believe to be the right plan, God’s will ultimately is what happens.
This work has changed my understanding of what it means to be “poor.” Poor has little to do with money, and much to do with relationships. I now believe all richness in the world should be measured by the quality and intimacy of our relationships and the strengths of spirit within us.
The relationships built on our job sites, where we interact with people we would never otherwise meet, is the place where magic and miracles truly happen. When pounding nails our worldly status is made invisible by work clothes and the common task. When performing physical labor, the richness of our human spirit is also released: through work I have experienced evidence of others’ resilience, persistence, determination, generosity, good humor, humility and kindness.
This work has also changed my understanding of what it takes to overcome “poor.” I continue to have the optimistic belief that Wichita could be the first place in the world where everyone has a safe, affordable place to live. Before this can happen, however, everyone in Wichita needs a strong supportive relationship with someone who sees their strengths and loves them. If suddenly we had all the money, materials, and people needed to build enough new houses and repair enough old houses to serve every family we still would not overcome poverty. We transform lives by entering partnerships – that is, authentic relationships – with the people we serve. That involves teaching, setting expectations and holding people accountable. It means sometimes being disappointed by others and loving them anyway.
It has been my privilege to develop relationships with the people we serve, with my teammates at Habitat and with donors of wisdom, wealth and service to this mission and ministry. While I have loved every minute of this work, I am excited to enter my next life phase and a promotion to Community Volunteer, with the opportunity to focus my energy with my own family. I am grateful to my husband Mark for having allowed me to put my full energy, passion and most of my time into this work. He is also committed to this ministry – and a condition of my promotion is that he continue to serve as a core volunteer. We will continue to be lifelong advocates of Habitat and affordable housing. We will also travel a little, visit my parents more often and enjoy our children and the four grandchildren we already have as well as the two we expect to meet in 2021.
I cannot possibly say goodbye, so instead I say to you FARE WELL. Because of God’s goodness, I know you will. – Ann