Volunteering an eye-opening experience

Published 12:30 pm Thursday, July 1, 2010

On Memorial Day weekend, Habitat for Humanity held a workday forits newest home at 405 Grenn St., near Alexander Junior HighSchool.

I went out to the work site with two purposes in mind: to writea story about Habitat for Humanity and to volunteer my time. I alsotalked my daughter Liana into volunteering as well.

What I came back with was a whole new respect for what Habitatdoes in the community.

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Years ago, I lived in Georgia, particularly Americus, Ga., thebirthplace of Habitat for Humanity and the home of Millard andLinda Fuller, the founders of the program.

The Christian-based program got started back in the 1960s as theFullers way to help in a poverty stricken area of Americus. It wasthere that they developed what they called “partnershiphousing.”

Through donations and volunteers, a home is built. The homeownerpurchases the home from Habitat, but no interest is charged.

More times than not, the homeowner’s mortgage payment is muchless than what would have paid in rent. Today most Habitat homesare built for $40,000 or $50,000. The cost depends a lot on howmuch material is donated.

Habitat got a big boost in the early 1980s when former PresidentJimmy Carter and his wife Rosalynn adopted Habitat as their cause.They continue helping with the project even today.

While living in Georgia, I got a first-hand look at the type ofbuilding that goes on with Habitat. I saw an entire community of 10houses go up in just a week. Volunteers came from around the nationto help with the project. That was more than 15 years ago.

Even though I witnessed the houses going up, I didn’t volunteerback then and I didn’t speak with any of the homeowners. I made upfor that Memorial Day weekend by volunteering locally. The day wasan eye-opener.

I got to meet homeowner LaTasha Washington and her fourbeautiful children, along with some other Habitat homeowners andvolunteers.

I’ve been around building and house remodeling and knew alittle, but there were volunteers who knew nothing of building -terms like T’s, corners, 2x4s and toe-nailing – meant nothing tothem. But the beauty of volunteering for Habitat is – there issomething anyone can do. If you can’t swing a hammer, you can totea board. If you don’t know what a T is you can help hold it up. Thepossibilities are endless.

What touched my heart was watching LaTasha’s children point outto me which rooms would be theirs. I could see the pride in theireyes as I taught them how to hold a hammer and pound a few nails.They were helping build something that would be their very own.

I even toured Kimberly Cooper’s Habitat home, which is next doorto the one currently under construction. I could see how proudKimberly was of her home as she took me from room to room andpointed out details, like the wall colors or kitchen cabinets.

Habitat is a worthwhile project to join. Because the LincolnCounty chapter is small, it only builds about one house a year. Butthat is one more family that is living in a quality home thatbelongs exclusively to them.

Currently, the chapter needs volunteers for its workdays.Building Chairman Peck Vaughn said it would be great if churchescould get together groups to work a few Saturdays.

For more information on Habitat, or to volunteer, call theHabitat’s office at 601-823-4061 and watch the newspaper’s calendarof events for upcoming workdays.

And how was your week?

Lifestyles Editor Tammie Brewer can be reached at The DAILYLEADER at (601) 833-6961 ext. 134, by e-mail attbrewer@dailyleader.com or you can write to her at P.O. Box 551,Brookhaven MS 39602.