A mix collection of inspirational stories gathered from the internet and personal experiences.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Moving Towards Significance

By Terry Laney

Having worked in the for profit world for 20 years, before tragedy struck my family in 1996, with the death of our first granddaughter, Caitlyn, at 19 months, and the subsequent four murder trials ending with the conviction of the babysitter of felony murder in 2001, I began to lose the desire and focus needed for the job I had. Being a Market Coach (director of operations) for all the company owned Pizza Huts in NC, putting in 60 and 70 hours a week no longer brought me satisfaction.

About 6 weeks after Caitlyn's death, MC, my wife, walked to downtown Davidson, a small college town in NC, and saw this sign saying Habitat for Humanity. She walked in, and asked if they could put her to work doing something, anything, then broke down crying. The customers, volunteers, and staff in this Habitat store came to her, supported her, and gave her warm hugs.

When I came home that night, she told me what had happened, and two weeks later I began volunteering 1 day a week. I opted out of Pizza Hut in 1998, and the following two years I went into what Bob Buford calls "Halftime-Changing Your Game Plan from Success to Significance", although I hadn't realized it at the time. It wasn't until 2002, that I was able to recognize where I had been.

In 2000, the Habitat director asked her if she was interested in becoming the store manager and leading the move of their office and store to Cornelius, and a larger location. She told them she wasn't interested, but knew someone who was. Shortly thereafter, I was hired as their store manager. I ran their store for 19 months, and more than doubled their sales and profits during that time. Then, in early 2002, the Habitat executive director was retiring, and I applied, along with 157 other people, for the position. After many interviews, I was blessed to be selected for the position. There were 5 people on staff when I was promoted to executive director, and we had served 67 families locally, and another 195 families in Guatemala.

As of today, we have 39 people on staff, 2 Habitat ReStores, and have served another 163 families locally, plus 1782 families in Guatemala, and 15 families in Sri Lanka. Over 14,000 lives have been changed just through Our Towns Habitat. I've also been on 15 Global Village trips to Guatemala to follow our tithe (we rank 8th out of over 1600 global Habitat affiliates in lifetime tithe), and built relationships with our brothers and sisters at Habitat Guatemala. We were also recognized as National Habitat Affiliate of the year in 2008.

Today we celebrate our future opportunity, commitment and obligation, not our past achievements. That's something else I learned at Wofford, it's about WE, and not ME! Myliberal arts education at Wofford College has been instrumental to me throughout my life. Education in the classroom (although I wasn't as studious as I should have been) through committed, engaging professors, on campus with the hundreds of fellow Terriers, and on the playing field, as I was blessed in receiving a football scholarship through Charles Bradshaw, another Terrier, who graduated more than a decade earlier, who has reached his significance, and being exposed to the greater Spartanburg community, as well as, Converse College, where I met MC on a blind date in 1971.

The hours I spent in my major of sociology, as well as, history, education, and religion, have all paid dividends in helping me to achieve that all important thing to me, and that is significance. It isn't about achieving success; it is about helping those around you to become successful. That's what all the professors, administrators, and coaches at Wofford College have done over the years, and THAT is SIGNIFICANCE.

Who has had a hand in moving you to SIGNIFICANCE in your life?


Having been led to Habitat for Humanity through a family tragedy, Terry has been Executive Director at Our Towns Habitat for Humanity since 2002, serving as ReStore Manager for 19 months prior to that, and engaged as a volunteer since 1996. Terry served on the International Global Volunteer Mobilization Committee, Affiliate Enhancement Committee, and Mission Alignment Advisory Group with Habitat for Humanity International, and is also a member of the Subject Experience Team. He also is a member of the Board of Habitat for Humanity of North Carolina. Originally from Va. Beach, his background includes teaching at SC School for the Deaf and Blind and 20 years in the restaurant business, serving as Director of Operations for all company-owned Pizza Hut restaurants in NC. A graduate of Wofford College in Spartanburg,SC, with a BA in sociology, and many hours in education, history and religion, he is married to M.C., with two grown children and three grandchildren. He was the recipient of the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award for inspiring others to community service, at Davidson College's May 2012 commencement. Our Towns Habitat for Humanity chosen as medium-sized Affiliate of the Year in 2008, not a cause to celebrate, but a calling to do more. 

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