MEET MARK BIPPES, a hammering hero

Mark BippesMark Bippes started volunteering with Morris Habitat for Humanity when it was founded in 1985 and remembers swinging his first hammer and striking his first nail at our first project. He was also on the ground floor of Habitat’s founding in Americus, GA, in 1970.

This forty-five-year adventure with Habitat—thirty years of which were spent with Morris Habitat until his retirement in 2013 — has left him feeling blessed even as he battles his own recent illness. For the last few years, Mark has been battling leukemia and had to step back from some work. “But I’m winning this fight and expect to return to a Morris Habitat construction site soon,” he said.

Once homeowners move into Morris Habitat houses, great things began to happen, something Mark first marveled at, but then grew to expect.

“Over the past few decades, I’ve known many Morris Habitat homeowners, and I have seen how owning a home can change a family’s—and a child’s—life,” Mark said. “These kids often lived in cramped quarters and shared a room—and sometimes a bed—with their siblings. They didn’t have a quiet place to study and weren’t proud of where they lived. Maybe they didn’t have a home at all.”

“Families that live in safe, decent homes develop financial stability and peace of mind,” Mark said. “Neighborhoods are strengthened. The children of Morris Habitat homeowners do better in school. They have more confidence and a promising future. They end the cycle of poverty that may have been part of their childhood.”

Mark’s journey with Habitat for Humanity began almost at the organization’s own beginnings.

Mark Bippes and Millard Fuller“I met Millard and Linda Fuller, founders of Habitat for Humanity International, when I was working with a youth outreach group in Georgia in 1970,” Mark said. “The Fullers were an inspiring couple, millionaires who had given up their vast fortune and devoted their lives to helping others. Millard Fuller helped develop the simple formula that became the Habitat for Humanity foundation: Build homes with donated funds and volunteer labor whenever possible, including help or ‘sweat equity’ from the prospective homeowner, and sell them with no-interest loans to families in need.”

Mark was hooked. He volunteered at Jimmy Carter Work Projects, framing walls alongside the former president Carter and his wife, Rosalynn. He built Habitat homes from Canada to North Carolina to La Ceiba, Honduras.

After moving to Lake Hopatcong, he began volunteering at Morris Habitat for Humanity. “After Morris Habitat was founded in 1985, I swung a hammer at its first project—a four-plex in Morristown,” he said. He was a constant presence at Morris Habitat building sites since then. He later joined the Morris Habitat staff, working as construction supervisor for twelve years before retiring in 2013.

We need your help to continue bringing people together to build homes, communities and hope.

Mark says, “I’ve seen the power of homeownership. That’s why I keep coming back. I firmly believe in Millard and Linda Fuller’s vision from more than four decades ago: to create a world where everyone has a decent place to live. I hope you’ll join me in supporting Morris Habitat, as a donor or volunteer—or both! Your donation will make a tremendous difference in the lives of families in our community.”

For thirty years, from 1985 to 2015, Morris Habitat for Humanity has empowered families, revitalized neighborhoods and helped eliminate poverty housing. But we can’t do it alone. It’s people like Mark Bippes—and YOU—who help make homeownership a reality for hardworking families.

To continue our work, we need your support. Please join us by giving generously so, together, we can create a world where everyone has a decent place to live.