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Volunteers always needed for Habitat

“How’s Habitat going?”

I get asked that question about once a week, and I’m glad I cannow answer, “Much better.”

“How’s Habitat going?”

I get asked that question about once a week, and I’m glad I cannow answer, “Much better.”

It has been my pleasure to work with Habitat since it wasorganized here in 1996. While I’ve seen the affiliate barely hangon during some very tough times, I’ve also witnessed the happinessthat comes when a house is finished and occupied by the newowner.

To recap a little, Habitat for Humanity of Lincoln Countystruggled, not only to build its first two houses, but to survivehere. Without a pool of good volunteers, any organization willflounder. It takes more than four or five people to keep a Habitataffiliate operating, and that’s just about what Lincoln County’swas down to when the second house was finished in February of lastyear.

Habitat just recently started construction of its third houseafter taking two years to get its own house in order, so tospeak.

A new board of directors was elected just over a year ago, andthey made what has been a key turning point for Habitat by votingto hire a part-time, paid executive director — someone to keeppaperwork updated, get committees organized and working and to keepvolunteers motivated.

Out of a long list of applicants, Dr. Jerry Wilkinson ofMeadville was chosen to lead Habitat. Now retired from ChevronCorporation, Dr. Wilkinson serves as pastor of two PrimitiveBaptist Churches in the area. Many may know him from his time asband director at Copiah-Lincoln Community College from 1968-70.

Dr. Wilkinson has been a real ‘shot-in-the-arm’ for Habitat. Hehas provided the leadership and motivation that this affiliate sodesperately needed.

But, problems remain.

Some in the public still don’t understand exactly what Habitatfor Humanity is and how it works. Some think it’s “anothergovernment giveaway program.” That assessment is wrong on bothcounts.

Habitat for Humanity is first — and foremost — a Christianministry with the mission to help break the cycle of poverty bybuilding simple, decent, low-cost houses with the support ofvolunteers, churches, civic groups, businesses and industries. Itis not associated with the federal government, and no federal fundsare used to build Habitat houses.

The houses ARE NOT given away, either. While Habitat continuallystresses that the houses are not built as charity, this point morethan any other is often overlooked by the public. The houses aresold to partner families though no-interest loans made byHabitat.

The money from house payments goes into a revolving fund that isused to build more houses. In fact, under Habitat regulations, itcan’t be used for anything else. Affiliates can’t buy stamps, orpay the office rent, or provide refreshments for volunteer workerswith these funds. Other money must be raised for that.

Also, Habitat does not build houses FOR anybody. It buildshouses WITH people. Partner families are required to work at least300 hours on their own home as a form of ‘sweat equity.’

Construction of the third house, which is being built onproperty at the intersection of Turner and Grenn Streets, should bein full swing in the next few weeks, and volunteers are needed.

Habitat for Humanity of Lincoln County is still looking for itsfirst ‘house sponsor’ — a business, club or church — that willcommit to provide either the needed funds (about $17,000) orvolunteer labor to build a house.

That might sound like a big task, but think how easy it would beif two or three churches, clubs or businesses combined theirefforts.

If you would like to learn more about Habitat, please call Dr.Wilkinson at 823-4061. He will gladly come to your church or clubmeeting to talk about Habitat’s work here. The office on RailroadAvenue is open on Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 9 a.m. to noon. Ifhe’s not there, you can leave a message.

And remember, Habitat for Humanity Lincoln County needs yourprayers, too.

Write to Nanette Laster at P.O. Box 551, Brookhaven, MS39602; or send email to news@dailyleader.com.