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Article Archive >> Community

Building Homes, Rebuilding Lives! Mardi Gras Auction Exceed Goal

Building Homes, Rebuilding Lives!
Mardi Gras Auction Exceed Goal

A touch of the Mardi Gras came to Hagerstown on April 1, 2006--and that's no April Fool's joke!
The 13th Annual Auction Dinner for the local affiliate of Habitat for Humanity was held at the Clarion Convention Center with a Mardi Gras theme. Live music was provided by the Smithsburg High School Jazz Band. Once again the event was sold out as 421 people thronged into the hotel to eat, have fun and bid on many assorted items to help Habitat for Humanity of Washington County raise funds. Habitat hoped to raise $50,000 with the event.
"I'm so excited," said Sherry Brown-Cooper, executive director of Habitat for Humanity of Washington County. "Tonight, $57,500 was raised, which exceeds our goal, and is an increase of $15,500 over last year's event. These monies will be used to help pursue Habitat's goal of providing safe, decent, affordable housing to low-income families."
In Washington County, more than 11,000 people live in poverty. That's one in ten. Half of these are children. Inadequate housing impacts the physical and psychological development of children and these problems can be irreversible. Almost ninety-two percent of the households with children that confront housing problems receive no housing assistance. These are families earning wages that do not allow them to provide decent housing. And that's where Habitat comes in.
A Habitat built home is a community effort! The homeowners work side-by-side with volunteers from all walks of life to build their homes. Then they are allowed to purchase the home at no profit and with zero interest loans, making payments they can afford. The homes are built with donated materials or materials purchased with donated funds. Habitat uses no government funds for construction. But funding is essential! It comes in from many sources! In the fall of the year, Habitat conducts a campaign soliciting gifts. During the year Habitat seeks out grants to fund its projects. Corporations donate to help construct homes. Caring people contribute to the cause to the best of their ability.
Then, every spring, our local Habitat holds an auction dinner, such as the one mentioned above, as its major public fundraiser. This is a big undertaking requiring many hours of work by several volunteers. Habitat wishes to thank all of the volunteers for their many hours of work on this event. Also, thanks to all who provided items to be auctioned, and to the many sponsors providing funding.
Habitat will continue to address the affordable housing issue. Until this housing crisis is remedied, other social problems will be inadequately addressed. Families will continue to lose battles against crime, poor education, inadequate nutrition, decaying neighborhoods, insufficient health care and welfare dependency. But, by far, the biggest challenge facing poor families is housing affordability. Families who pay a large part of their incomes for housing often have little left for food, clothing, health care and other necessities. For more information on Habitat, call 301-791-9009.

William L. Bulla is a freelance writer residing in Washington County.

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