Building Homes! Rebuilding Lives! And They Came!

Building Homes! Rebuilding Lives!
And They Came!

They began to drift toward the site around four o'clock, and by five o'clock more than 525 people were there ready to help build a house. These people arrived, not with hammers and saws, but armed with credit cards and checkbooks. Their goal was to help build a house by attending the 15th Annual Dinner Auction of Habitat for Humanity of Washington County.
With this year's theme, "Under Construction With Habitat", many guests, as well as the Habitat volunteers, were attired in overalls, jeans and hard hats as they roamed against a backdrop of a life-size framework of a Habitat home, erected in the Athletic, Recreation and Community Center at Hagerstown Community College.
The guests moved through the building viewing the hundreds of items in the silent auction, placing their bids, and rechecking to see if someone had overbid them. This was followed by an excellent meal provided by Leiter's Catering. Games and door prize drawings added to the excitement of the evening.
Then came the live auction, and those people that came to help build a house once again went into action with credit card and checkbook. The auction was brisk and exciting as people bid on numerous items. Results? Habitat raised $80,000, exceeding its goal for the evening.
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 lots of hours of work by many 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. And, last but not least, the more than 525 people that attended and purchased the auctioned items.
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.
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.