Building Homes, Rebuilding Lives: They Helped Make It Happen

Building Homes, Rebuilding Lives
They Helped Make It Happen

"Habitat has lost two ardent supporters," said Sherry Brown-Cooper, Executive Director of Habitat for Humanity of Washington County. "One of these, Shirl Cialli, was a co-founder of Habitat in Washington County. The other person was Frank Rhinehart, who served on our Board of Directors."
In 1994, Shirlianne "Shirl" Cialli and her husband, Fred, got together with Mike and Jan Dreisbach to start the Habitat for Humanity affiliate in Washington County. They had observed what Habitat was doing in other areas to provide low-income families safe-affordable housing, and wanted to help provide that for their community.
Fred Cialli died in June 2005, followed by Sheri in March 2006. Without their determination, vision and compassion, twenty-two homes housing seventy-two people may not have been possible in Washington County.
Franklin D. Rhinehart, another supporter of the local Habitat affiliate, died in March of this year. Frank served Habitat as a member of the Board of Directors. He was supportive of the organization in many ways during his years on the Board and as a friend and volunteer after his tenure.
"The dedication of these people will be missed," said Brown-Cooper. "Habitat thanks them for helping so many less fortunate people."
One plan of thanking Shirl Cialli is already underway. In fact, it had started before she died. The group of Habitat volunteers called Women Build had plans underway to erect a new home in the spring of 2007. This house will be dedicated to Shirl Cialli.
They are starting to develop fundraisers to get funds in place by the Spring of next year. Any one interested in helping financially, may make contributions to Women Build at Habitat for Humanity of Washington County, 20 South Prospect Street, Hagerstown, Maryland 21740.
According to Executive Director Sherry Brown-Cooper, "The Women Build project is women who are determined to think outside the box, learn new skills, make a difference in the lives of children and families, and show that they are not only the main nurturers of the house, but can also build a house. It's a program that empowers women." Any women interested in becoming part of this exciting volunteer project may become part of it by contacting Habitat for Humanity office at 301-791-9009.
Since Habitat for Humanity of Washington County was established, literally thousands of volunteers have become involved in its mission to eliminate substandard housing in our county. Without a decent place to live, people cannot be productive members of society, children cannot learn and families cannot thrive.
Habitat is teaching families how to manage their income. Families put in 500 hours of "sweat equity" helping to build their home and other Habitat homes. Families pay no-interest mortgage payments to Habitat.
Anyone interested in volunteering or helping Habitat financially to help put low income families in their own homes, please call Sherry Brown Cooper, Executive Director of Habitat for Humanity of Washington County at 301-791-9009.

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