Clive Rainey, the very first volunteer for Habitat for Humanity, will visit Sussex County Oct. 18 and 19.

Clive Rainey, the very first volunteer for Habitat for Humanity, will visit Sussex County Oct. 18 and 19.

Rainey met Millard and Linda Fuller, the founders of Habitat for Humanity International, in 1977 and agreed to be the organization's first official volunteer. Rainey has helped Habitat grow from a small farming community in Americus, Ga. to a household name, as presidents, kings, movie stars and countless others in over 80 countries have agreed to pick up a hammer and tools to help someone build a simple, decent and affordable house for their family.

Rainey invented the concept of "sweat equity," wherein Habitat families help build theirs and others' homes in lieu of a down payment.

After Rainey helped the fledgling group of organizers get started in the United States, he took Habitat to Africa and served as its first national director, establishing the organization in 12 countries.

After 33 years of service, the latter years serving as community relations director for Habitat for Humanity International, Rainey has retired to Guatemala.

Kevin Gilmore, executive director for Sussex County Habitat for Humanity, said Rainey is one of Habitat's "original story tellers," sharing the life-changing stories of hundreds of thousands of families across the globe who have embraced and partnered with the organization.

"Clive never looked back after Millard Fuller asked him to join in this Christian housing ministry in partnership with the poor," Gilmore said. "He sees himself as the richest man in the world because of his life of service and being able to put God's love into action by bringing people together to build homes, communities and hope."

In February, a team of Sussex County Habitat staff and volunteers traveled to Guatemala to build a home. Sussex County has partnered with Guatemala for over 20 years and is committed to not only tithing 10 percent of their unrestricted monies each year to Guatemala, but to physically going down and seeing their gift at work by helping build the homes.

It was in Guatemala that Gilmore invited Rainey to Sussex County.

Tom Protack, community engagement director for Sussex Habitat, said he is thrilled that the organization's devoted volunteers and countless supporters will be able to not only meet Rainey, the first and longest serving volunteer with Habitat International, but also listen to his passionate stories about how the miracle of Habitat changes lives forever.

"For a volunteer who works on a Habitat job site in Sussex County to meet the very first volunteer to answer the call of Habitat with our founders is a once in a lifetime opportunity," Protack said. "No doubt his time with us will rekindle the flame of service and volunteerism, and keep the mission of Sussex County Habitat strong by encouraging others to volunteer and become donors. If you are searching for a way to give of your time, talent and treasure, come see a man who can help you answer that call of service."

Rainey will be visiting three different venues throughout his two-day visit. On Oct. 18, he will travel to Dover to meet Gov. Jack Markell and other elected officials and to serve as the keynote speaker for the swearing-in ceremony of the new class of Delaware AmeriCorps service members. Later that day, a welcoming reception will be hosted at the historic Brick Hotel on Georgetown's The Circle. On Oct. 19, Habitat will host a prayer breakfast at St. Edmond's Church in Rehoboth Beach and an evening reception will be held the same day at Fish On in Lewes.

For more information, visit or call (302) 855-1153. The public is welcome and encouraged to participate.