Past year a great one for Habitat

Published 11:38 am Friday, February 23, 2007

Dear Habitat homeowners, financial donors, construction volunteers and vendors who offer us discounted or sometimes free labor and supplies, and all our supporters:

Whew! There has been a lot of activity since the last update back in the summer of 2006. Here are some of the highlights:

Eva Givens and family moved into their new house right after the formal dedication ceremony on Sept. 17, 2006. The address is 738 Smith St. More than 150 different volunteer workers helped to build the house and they worked almost 300 workdays to finish the job.

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Volunteer groups included the Community Hospital, New Hope Baptist Church, Jefferson Street United Methodist Church youth, First Baptist Church (mission day), a large group of high school students from California, St. Mary Basilica, Isle of Capri and The Natchez Democrat.

In September and October 2006 we began to clear off the lot adjacent to the Givens’ home at 740 Smith St. We cut down trees, mowed the grass, dug up weeds and vines, hauled in dirt and sand to level the lot, and finally on Nov. 18, 2006, the construction crew started to dig the foundation.

The newest pre-approved homeowner for house number 10 is Mr. Louis Roach Jr. He moved to Natchez from New Orleans immediately after Hurricane Katrina in August 2005 and lives with his sister on Grant Street (just a block away from our building site). Mr. Roach lost his home and all his personal possessions (including furniture and clothing) in the storm. About four years ago he lost part of one leg and one arm in a fishing accident and gets around in his motorized wheelchair. He helped to design the two bedrooms, one bathroom house to accommodate his special needs, complete with wider doors, wider hallways, lower kitchen counters, a larger bathroom to allow him to turn around and special handrails in the bathroom. He will probably think of other items as construction continues.

There has been a significant increase in the number of regular volunteer workers who come almost every Monday, Wednesday and Saturday mornings to work on the house. Last year, this group was generally four or five in number, but recently the crew has expanded to about eight.

And oh, what a difference it makes. The regular work crew now consists of Luther Cain, foreman, Buddy Rayne, chief engineer, Carl Timmons, Eric Junkin, Henry Falb (visiting Natchez for three months from Bloomington, Ill), Benjamin Tillman and myself. Others who can be counted on are Charlie Thomas, Stuart Hudnall, Andrew Calvit and Robert Floyd. And a special thanks to Stine Lumber Company which committed to send several workers on each of four Saturdays this winter and to Jimmy Dunn who put the roof shingles on for us.

Habitat would like to say thank you to the various vendors who helped by giving discounts on building materials, providing free labor and services, and encouraging their staff to work on the houses. Habitat encourages you to do business with these vendors:

Stine Lumber Company, Home Hardware, Power Safe and Lock Service, Lee Scott Construction Company, Premo Stallone Plumbing, River City Tree Service, St. Catherine Gravel Company, Verucchi Pest Control and Mississippi Fence Company. In addition to these firms that operate in the Miss-Lou area, Whirlpool Corporation donates a free refrigerator and stove and sells washers and dryers at significant discounts. Hunter Blind Company provides window treatments for each house.

We could not operate without money to build the houses. So we wish to thank Belk Company for sponsoring a special sale just to benefit Habitat. Several firms stepped up as grand benefactors and donated funds up front; they are Isle of Capri, Community Hospital, and of course, Belk. Other financial contributors include: Progressive Solutions, Natchez Regional Medical Center, Concordia Bank, Entergy, Great River Chevy, Monmouth Plantation, Moose Lodge, Britton & Koontz Bank, New Covenant Presbyterian Church, Jefferson Street United Methodist Church, Delta Bank, Stedman & Associates and Callon Petroleum Company.

So, in closing, the board of directors of Natchez-Adams County Habitat for Humanity, a United Way agency, would like to express their appreciation for those who helped us along the way. Our mission is to eliminate substandard housing here in Natchez and with your continued support, we will work toward that end.

Duncan McFarlane is secretary treasurer of Habitat for Humanity.