Volunteers key to Habitat’s success

Published 11:22 am Monday, May 24, 2010

Making a house a home is usually left to homeowners. But, in the case of Atmore’s first project of the Escambia County Habitat for Humanity, making a home will happen when volunteers use hammers and nails to create a home of Jennifer Dorriety and her daughter.

Rickey Hughes, a member of Habitat building committee and employee of Swift Supply, said his knowledge of Habitat for Humanity was limited until two years ago.

“I was first exposed to Habitat about two years ago,” Hughes said. “I didn’t really understand how it all worked until then. The knowledge I’ve gained about what Habitat is and what they do has been interesting.”

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Habitat for Humanity has been misunderstood by some who think homes are given to the recipients, Hughes said.

“Some people think that Habitat builds houses and gives them to people,” Hughes said. “They don’t build a house for somebody for nothing. They have to work for it and make payments.”

Hughes said potential homeowners have requirements much like people who purchase traditional housing.

“Habitat homeowners have to put up some money for their home,” Hughes said. “They have to put in about $750 to start. For someone who’s having a hard time, that’s a lot of money. They also have to put in 400 sweat-equity hours. That’s not an easy thing to do.”

Hughes said he has learned that a lot of people, companies and businesses make the Habitat home affordable for potential homeowners.

“I had no idea how many people and businesses were involved in making a Habitat home affordable,” Hughes said. “I’ve discovered that the volunteer labor and donations from major companies like Whirlpool keep the costs low for a Habitat home.”

Habitat for Humanity also helps to educate homeowners on how best to manage their finances making the possibility of keeping the home.

“Habitat takes homeowners through training in preparation of being a homeowner,” Hughes said. “They have mentors who do training to teach homeowners how to handle their money and be responsible with it. I never realized everything that Habitat does to make people successful homeowners.”

Hughes said he got excited about Atmore’s first Habitat build and is anxious to get involved with the project.

“I’m really excited about being a part of this first build here in Atmore,” Hughes said. “It’s a really good thing.”

Hughes said the first build in Atmore is exciting and hopes the fever for building homes catches on in Atmore.

“I’ll be volunteering at the building site and some of our folks will be involved as well,” Hughes said. “I think when people realize how Habitat works and what it means to those potential homeowners, they will get excited about Habitat, too.”

To learn more about the Escambia County Habitat for Humanity and how you can become a volunteer, visit their Web site at www.escambiahfh.org or call the Brewton office at 251-867-0095.

More than 50 volunteers began showing up just before 8 a.m. Friday morning to work on Jennifer Dorriety’s Habitat for Humanity house in the Nokomis community. | Photo by Adam Prestridge