Since we haven’t been able to connect in person over the last year, we wanted to step back and reintroduce you to our small but mighty team at Habitat for Humanity of Oregon—starting with Director of Programs Reianna DaRosa:
In this role, Reianna provides day-to-day support to affiliate staff and board members and oversees our training opportunities. When it comes to daily support, if Reianna doesn’t know the answer, she connects folks with resources, peers or someone else who may be able to help. In addition, Reianna coordinates our biennial Western Region Conference and other training events; and along with affiliate input, helps identify themes for ongoing learning and growth opportunities. Reianna also supports Habitat’s participation in the IDA Initiative, assists affiliates through times of transition, and participates in and helps guide our diversity, equity and inclusion work.
Tell us a little about yourself:
Reianna DaRosa (she/her/hers) has been part of Habitat for Humanity since 2011 and currently supports all 24 Habitat affiliates scattered across the state as the Director of Programs. Reianna’s Habitat experience in affordable housing is complemented by her history of helping people find dignity, equality, and economic stability. She has a Master’s degree in International Relations with a focus in microcredit and interned at Grameen Bank in Bangladesh before serving as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Guatemala for two years. Her life goals of continually growing, inspiring compassion and helping others achieve economic stability lead her to Habitat for Humanity.
Before Habitat Oregon, Reianna spent five years as the Homeownership Manager at Habitat Portland Metro/East (now Habitat Portland Region). After a self-imposed sabbatical of self-discovery through rest, travel, yoga, and adventure, she returned to Oregon, rediscovering her passion for helping people find stability through homeownership again. She continues to find joy in the relationships she develops at work and in her community. Reianna lives just outside of the Portland area and enjoys gardening, reading good fantasy novels, watching sci-fi shows, yoga, baking bread, and spending lots of time caring for her little niece and nephew.
What is your favorite to see or do in Oregon?
I love the variety of climates we have here in Oregon and especially love the trees and green. Standing in the forest on a trail in the Columbia River Gorge or traversing driftwood and sand dunes with the sound of the ocean in my ears on the coast always fills me with a sense of calm and peace.
What is a recent book, podcast or movie/TV show that you would recommend to others?
Two of my favorite books of all time are The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran and The Gift, a collection of poems by the Persian poet Hafiz. These two books feed my soul and uplift my spirit.
What does home mean to you?
Home means family, food, security, comfort, and helping others. I bought my first home in 2012 right after the recession when banks were moving on their foreclosure backlog; my townhouse was a foreclosure. Even though I was buying at the bottom of the market, I could barely afford my condo back then; I only managed it with the help of an IDA and the support of the Portland Housing Center. I am so grateful for those resources! Purchasing my home impacted my life in ways I couldn’t have imagined.
For years I had a haven and safe space that allowed me to bring others in and freed me to see the world a little more. Having an affordable house meant I could feed AmeriCorps volunteers, take in house-less friends when needed, and provide a haven and bedroom for a struggling cousin. I traveled abroad for months while roommates helped pay my mortgage and have had a space for holidays, parties, games, visitors and my capricious cat, Pippin. Even now, though I have moved out of my townhome, the rental income that it provides helps cover my higher rent where I am living next door to family. It has given me the flexibility to live where I need or want. My home has allowed me a quality of life that would not have been possible without becoming a homeowner.
What’s a highlight from your time with Habitat Oregon so far?
I would say that my work is highlighted by affiliate visits (usually) and relationships. I love going and seeing what folks are doing on the ground and how they are moving this work forward. I relish being able to occasionally get my hands dirty and get on the build site. I like that I have the opportunity to not only support leaders logistically and technically but also get to know them. I laugh (and sometimes cry) with them and am an ear when they need to talk, work through a problem, or are struggling with something. The relationships and connections with the people in our Habitat network make my work rich and meaningful.
What are you looking forward to most for the next year (Habitat, personal, or both)?
I am looking forward to being able to visit affiliates and jumping into deeper social justice work here at Habitat. At home I am looking forward to finally being able to verbally communicate with my little niece; she has so much to say but right now at her 16 months it is all a muddled garble of strung together syllables and vowels. This year her gibberish will turn into clearer words and sentences—it is going to be so much fun to finally be able to hear about what is going on in that little determined head of hers.