Building Homes, Rebuilding Lives: "It's A Wonderful, Wonderful Thing!"

Building Homes, Rebuilding Lives
"It's A Wonderful, Wonderful Thing!"

"It's a wonderful, wonderful thing," said Rana Rose at the dedication of her new Habitat for Humanity house in Hagerstown.
Rose and her 6-year-old daughter, Aaliyah, fled New Orleans with only two days of clothing just before Hurricane Katrina devastated the city. They relocated in Washington County about a year ago.
First Data Merchant Services sponsored Rose's home. The First Data Western Union Foundation provided more than a half million dollars to build eight houses in cities across the country where evacuee families have relocated.
"We are grateful to have been one of the grant recipients," said Sherry Brown-Cooper, executive director of the local Habitat affiliate. "First Data employees also helped build these houses for families like Rana and her daughter."
Rose commented, "I am so grateful to First Data, Habitat staff and all the wonderful volunteers that helped build my new home." Rose spoke of returning to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina to discover she had lost everything. "In my year in Hagerstown, God has blessed me with a new home and many friends."
This was the 24th Habitat house built in Washington County. The dedication ceremonies, where the house is "blessed" and the keys turned over to the owners, are special because they represent a new beginning for a family in need of affordable housing. It is also a public "thank you" to the many volunteers who provided essential skills and many hours of labor, and the numerous businesses that donated materials and services. It is also a tribute to the company or organization, like First Data Merchant Services and the First Data Western Union Foundation, for sponsoring the event.
Habitat for Humanity of Washington County touches lives. It empowers low-income families by partnering with them to build decent, affordable housing. It provides a program where low-income families needing affordable housing can work alongside volunteers to build that home. Habitat homeowners are required to spend 500-hours "sweat equity" building their homes. Then they are allowed to purchase it at no profit and with zero interest loans, making payments they can afford. The majority of family members whose lives improve through Habitat's housing are children. For them, a decent place to live makes all the difference in the world. In the words of Rana Rose, "It's a wonderful, wonderful thing!"
Habitat houses are not so large that the time or material donation is an unreasonable request. The three bedroom, one bath house covers approximately 1,100 sq. ft. Skilled workers needed are: drywall hangers & finishers; excavators; carpenters; roofers; plumbers; electricians; and heating & air conditioning technicians. Materials needed are: stone; blacktop; block; concrete; siding; drywall; electrical and plumbing materials.
Sub-contractors and material vendors willing to help out on one house per year may contact Charlie Paul, Habitat's construction manager at 301-331-7570 or Habitat invites anyone interested in construction to attend its Building Committee meetings on the 2nd Tuesday of each month, 6pm at Always Ron's in the backroom.

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