Building a better future

DIY Network and Habitat for Humanity have hit the nail on the head with their collaboration. The do-it-yourself cable network has provided the nonprofit homebuilder with everything from cash donations to elbow grease, from PSAs to hourlong specials. An hour focusing on Habitat’s annual Jimmy Carter Work Project (which took place this past June) will air on DIY in November.

But DIY gets back more than just the promotional benefits of a “cause marketing” campaign that matches the interests of viewers in the 33 million households the channel reaches.

“If you’ve ever been involved with Habitat for Humanity, building the home gives you so much back,” said DIY spokesman Gary McCormick. “That home­owner gets a home, but actually building the home is an enormous, uplifting [experience]. It’s such a sense of accomplishment.”

Habitat for Humanity International is an ecumenical Christian organization dedicated to eliminating what it calls “poverty housing” worldwide. Its volunteers build simple, affordable homes that are sold to people in need through no-interest loans. Recipients are also required to provide a considerable amount of sweat equity to the project.

Last week, DIY staffers put in some of their own sweat. They were outdoors in their headquarters city of Knoxville, Tenn., helping Habitat volunteers build the organization’s 200,000th home.

“We’ve got folks from DIY out there painting today,” said Kelle Shultz, executive director of Knoxville Habitat for Humanity, last week. “They’re not above donning a T-shirt, getting a brush in hand, and going out and doing a little painting for us.”

DIY helped the local Habitat chapter get this milestone project. It’s just one of several local and international collaborations with the group since DIY took over the partnership from its fellow Scripps Networks outfit, HGTV. (The 10 E.W. Scripps Co. television stations have also played a part.)

Besides the specials, PSAs and construction duty, DIY also created and distributed a training video for Habitat volunteers. And the network even donates leftover home-improvement items from its sets—such as windows and doors—to Habitat thrift stores.

The 200,000th home will be featured in a DIY special next year celebrating Habitat’s 30th anniversary. Says McCormick, “We continue to build homes, but we can do much more than that as far as getting the message out.”