Flowers from Mississippi changes lives

By Kevin Bradley
JA Travel Editor–

Joseph Flowers is a father, body assembly technician at Nissan Canton Vehicle Assembly Plant, and Master Carpenter in his spare time.

Joseph recently boarded an airplane for the first time in his life. He didn’t choose Paris, Egypt or some exotic location. Instead, he and four other Nissan workers decided back in July 2012 that they would help change the lives of 100 plus families. Although only five got this chance to change so many lives, over 100 Nissan employees shared Joseph and his colleagues’ desire.

I know by now you must be asking the questions of “where did he go” and “how did he affect so many?”

Well, here are the answers. He and the other Nissan contest winners went to Haiti to help build 100 homes from November 23 through December 1 of 2012. But this was no vacation. Joseph and the 600 plus other volunteers slept in tents the week that they were in Haiti and worked into the night to complete their mission of building homes to replace those lost in the 2010 earthquake.

That’s right, I said contest winners. Nissan held an essay contest to see who would join more than 600 international volunteers on a Habitat experience.

Joseph stood out so much, that while he was on the trip he was chosen by his peers to have dinner with the Carters one night. Yes, I mean President Carter and his wife Rosalyn dined with Canton Nissan Plant worker and Terry, MS community hero, Joseph Flowers!

Nissan has been involved with The Carter Work Project since 2007.

Habitat for Humanity International sponsored the 27th Annual Jimmy and Rosalyn Work Project in 2012.

But giving back is nothing new to Joseph Flowers or Nissan. The father and the company both have
a true passion for giving back and helping others. Joseph has participated in all Nissan Canton Habitat for Humanity builds in Mississippi, which surpasses seven. Over the past seven years Nissan has provided $8 million to Habitat for Humanity International to build homes throughout North America.

According to Flowers, “Our main goal here (Haiti) is to get these people out from under these blue tarps and into a decent house.”

Joseph Flowers was joined by colleagues Norma Estrada, Nissan Motor Acceptance Corp., Dallas, TX; Brian Lambert, Smyrna Manufacturing and Assembly Plant, Smyrna,TN; Francois Leferve, Dealer Operation, Toronto, Canada; and Ann Ngo, Nissan Design of San Diego, CA.

From Joseph Flowers

“I get so much enjoyment out of helping others, especially helping to build homes for others. I have been volunteering with Habitat for many years. While I’m a full-time Nissan employee, once I hear that the company is sponsoring a Habitat home, I want to be at every build day. When I see a finished home that I had part in building, while teaching someone else what I love to do, I am just happy.

We arrive on the job site, someone says a prayer for everyone’s safety, and when we meet the people that will be living in this house I get an instant sense of happiness that I will make a difference in those people’s lives.

While working on the house I get the chance to teach the homeowner how to build the house from the ground up, showing them how to build floors and walls, hang siding, and install doors. This gives the family a feeling of importance and instills a desire to keep their home in great shape. That feeling is something that can’t be taken away from them.

When I found out about this project in Haiti, I knew I had to be a part of it. Being able to work beside the Haitian people, who have been through such an ordeal, is much more personal and heart warming than any aid check that I could write. I will be able to show them that I really do care while at the same time doing something that I love.”