The nonprofit that was once Cleveland County Habitat for Humanity announced a name change Friday to Rose Rock Habitat for Humanity, a title leaders say will allow the organization to grow without limits in coming years.
Habitat for Humanity and community leadership hosted a ribbon cutting Friday at the Habitat Restore to mark the occasion, celebrating the start of a new era for the nearly-30-year-old local chapter.
The organization has rebranded completely online; its Facebook page notes it serves families in south central Oklahoma.
Rose Rock Habitat President and CEO Randy Gardner said the new moniker is just the latest name update for the organization, which was initially founded as Norman Habitat for Humanity. That name changed to Cleveland County Habitat in 2012 as the nonprofit expanded its mission beyond Norman’s borders, and the new name will allow for similar growth.
Gardner said census data and community conversations have made it clear that Rose Rock Habitat’s services are needed beyond the organization’s current service area.
“We know there’s a greater need out there that’s not being served. It’s ironic — some of those places are closer to where we’re at right now than the farthest corners of our county, and it’s a shame that we’re not trying to reach out there and serve them,” he said.
Leadership picked the rose rock to represent the nonprofit because of its unique relationship to the region and its geographic significance. If Habitat makes other significant changes in the future, the new name isn’t tied to city or county boundaries and can stay consistent, Gardner said.
“It’s important to the region, but it’s also the state rock, so now I could grow multiple counties and that name will stick,” he said. “We just wanted to be able to stick with our roots but still grow past our county borders.”
Habitat — which builds affordable housing for families but also constructs wheelchair ramps, repairs homes, trains clients in financial literacy and more — relies on its Restore for much of its funding. Gardner told The Transcript last week that while Rose Rock Habitat currently builds about three houses a year, they plan to increase that to five houses annually over the next few years and, eventually, 10 to 20 houses houses a year.
While the nonprofit has some longer-term goals, there also are expansion opportunities waiting Rose Rock Habitat right now.
“We actually already own property in Shawnee, for example, so we want to go over and build there,” Gardner said. “So I’m going to talk to the community leadership there, some of the churches there, and we’re trying to build a large community support system there that are anxious to have us come in and help them. So, why wouldn’t we want to be there? They need our services, we want to be there, so let’s make it happen.”
The organization always needs volunteer support and resources but also needs community members to spread awareness and support for the services Habitat offers, Gardner said.
Scott Martin, president and CEO of Norman’s Chamber of Commerce, said Habitat has always played an essential role in the Norman community and beyond, and the community is pleased to support their work. Habitat helps Oklahomans realize “a huge part of the American dream” by making homeownership a possibility for everyone, he said.
“I can’t speak to other Habitats across the country, but in Norman and in Cleveland County and beyond now, we have an exceptional Habitat, so we’re really thrilled to celebrate today,” Martin said.
This article is written by Emma Keith, who is the editor of The Transcript, where she covers Norman Public Schools and the University of Oklahoma. Reach her at [email protected] or at @emma_ckeith. The original article is available here.