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The ‘ups’ and ‘downs’ of Habitat for Humanity

To paraphrase the Marines:

Habitat for Humanity of Lincoln County is looking for a few goodvolunteers.

It has been my pleasure to serve on the board of directors ofHFH of Lincoln County for a number of years and as its presidentfor the last two years. I’ve seen the ups and downs of theorganization, and there have been some of both.

For those of you not familiar with Habitat or what it does,here’s a recap.

Habitat for Humanity of Lincoln County is an affiliate ofHabitat International — a non-profit Christian ministry with thegoal of building simple, decent, low-cost housing through thesupport of volunteers, churches, businesses and industries.

During my involvement with Habitat, the biggest misconceptionI’ve seen is that the houses are given to people free of charge.The second biggest is that Habitat is a federal government program.To clear them both up: Habitat houses are sold; Habitat has noconnection with the federal government.

The houses are purchased by “partner families” throughno-interest loans. Applicants who apply for houses must be able topay for them. Ability to pay, willingness to partner with the localaffiliate (families must work 300 hours on their house or otherHabitat projects) and need are family selection criteria.

House payments go into a revolving fund that is used to buildmore houses — and that’s the only way it can be spent. Any otherneed of HFH of Lincoln County, such as operating an office, must bepaid for through donations or fund raising events.

Habitat for Humanity of Lincoln County has built and sold fourhouses. That’s definitely been one of “ups” for the organization.One of the “downs” is that it’s taken the group almost seven yearsto do it.

Another “up” is that church support is growing. Several churchesin the county have either made tithes to Habitat a part of theirbudgets or made Habitat’s mission work part of their mission work.First United Methodist, St. Francis of Assisi, Central Baptist, NewHope Methodist and First Baptist have all provided work teams tohelp with various projects. Topisaw Baptist Church partnered withHabitat to build a house in their community last year.

On the “down” side, there are still some churches in thecommunity that are not involved, yet mission teams will venturefrom Lincoln County to other towns in other states to do the samesuch work. Also, support from civic clubs here has been virtuallynil.

Here’s another “up.” Habitat has received some very generousdonations over the years. The City of Brookhaven very graciouslydonated the property on East Congress Street where the first twohouses were built. The city has also donated some “in-kind” work toHabitat. We thank the mayor and the board of aldermen for theirgenerosity.

Another very generous gift Habitat received late last year was atwo-bedroom house, which has been moved to Beeson Drive. The nextproject will be getting the house in shape. It is the future homeof Derek and Michelle King and their sons. For now, the donorwishes to remain anonymous.

Also late last year, West Builder’s Supply of McComb donated$5,000 worth of plumbing supplies to the Lincoln Countyaffiliate.

If you would like to get involved, or if you would like to learnmore about Habitat for Humanity, a special meeting is scheduled forTuesday, March 4, at 5:45 p.m. at the State Room on East CherokeeStreet. Habitat desperately needs volunteers to serve on the boardof directors and various committees: Family Selection; SiteSelection, Family Support, Church Relations, Fund Raising, andBuilding. You don’t have to be able to hammer or saw to be involvedwith Habitat.

I look forward to seeing you there.

Write to Nanette Laster or P.O. Box 551, Brookhaven, Miss.39602, or send e-mail to news@dailyleader.com.