Habitat for Humanity's First Volunteer
Oct 26, 2018 7:00 AM
Clive Rainey
Habitat for Humanity's First Volunteer


Clive Rainey joined Habitat for Humanity International on April 1, 1977, soon after the organi­zation was formed, becoming the first HFHI volunteer. Rainey brought the concept of “sweat equity” to Habitat after learning of a hous­ing development in Ohio where homeowners contributed labor in lieu of a down payment.

In the summer of 1978, Rainey was sent to Immokalee, Fla. to assist that fledgling affiliate in setting up its family selection process. One year later, he went to Kinshasa, Zaire, and began three years of work there. After Idi Amin, the infamous dictator of Uganda, was overthrown, Rainey felt compelled to take the skills he had learned in Zaire and apply them to the effort to rebuild Uganda. In September 1983, having successfully launched the work in Uganda, Rainey returned to Americus and became Habitat’s first Africa area director.

In 1992, he participated in a brainstorming session that gave birth to the Sumter County Initiative to solve the problem of substandard houses in Habitat’s home county no later than September of the year 2000. Rainey was given the role of fundraising coordinator. Anticipating that more communities would want to replicate the success of SCI, Rainey recommended that HFHI launch a challenge to affiliates and their commu­nities to eliminate or significantly reduce substandard housing within a 20-year period. Habitat for Humanity’s 21st Century Challenge was officially launched March 1, 1999, with Rainey as its director. Although retired from full-time employment, Rainey continues to travel the world sharing the Habitat story and influencing supporters to build more decent, simple, affordable homes for people who desperately need them.