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Chris Clarke is Habitat for Humanity International’s senior vice president of marketing and communications. Clarke’s responsibilities include promoting and safeguarding Habitat’s messages and brand and raising awareness of the role shelter plays in breaking the cycle of poverty.

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Every day, I see a steady stream of the hundreds of news stories and blog posts that are published about Habitat for Humanity’s work around the world. The details of every one of those stories can be as different as the locations where we build — and that’s both a blessing and a brand challenge.

Habitat ShotOur reach and the tremendous diversity of Habitat’s program efforts have helped us become a significant force for positive change. Since Habitat’s founding in 1976, our volunteers have helped more than 1 million families — representing 5 million people — improve their living conditions. We currently build in more than 1,400 communities around the United States and in more than 70 other countries.

We know that our mission best becomes reality when we work within local culture and context. And so our approaches have grown to encompass new construction, rehab and repair work on existing homes, advocacy to help reform laws and change regulations, and market development to help expand services available to low-income households so that families are empowered to improve their own shelters more effectively.

We do so much, and we are in so many places, yet the world seems smaller every day, as social media and similarly instant electronic means of communication continue to surface and evolve. How do we successfully integrate all of this into a unified message, one that is as clear as Habitat’s vision of a world where everyone has a decent place to live?

Increasingly, we use the many channels at our disposal — habitat.org, our robust social media presence, broadcast PSAs, print media — to highlight this fundamental truth: Habitat. We build.

No matter how we build, the reasons why are universal. A key message for us is that decent, affordable housing — whichever approach makes it possible and whichever audience we are speaking to — is absolutely fundamental to helping a family forge a path out of poverty.

Wherever we are, whatever tool we are using, we know that together we are building opportunity, stability, health and independence. We can’t bring everyone in person to experience the need — and success — that we see around the world. But we can bring that world to more people, and we can invite them to help us transform it. This is the story we must tell.

Chris Clarke is Habitat for Humanity International’s senior vice president of marketing and communications. Clarke’s responsibilities include promoting and safeguarding Habitat’s messages and brand and raising awareness of the role shelter plays in breaking the cycle of poverty.

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