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Officers' Spouses Club builds relationships, homes in local community

By Cpl. Denyelle D. D'Aveta | | June 17, 2004

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Owning a home is important to many people. To call something their own may give them a sense of accomplishment and freedom.

Women from the local area, including members of the Officers' Spouses Club here recently helped an Albany resident achieve that goal by building her a home.

The Flint River Habitat for Humanity began its "Women's Build" campaign June 5 in Albany's Woodland Oaks subdivision. The campaign allows women the opportunity to learn construction skills, and help provide more homes in the community.

"It is a good opportunity for women to learn about construction," said Penny Armitage, construction manager, Flint River Habitat for Humanity. "If women want to learn about construction... this is the perfect place to learn."

The "Women's Build" campaign not only provides local women an opportunity to learn about construction, it also gets more volunteers out in the community to meet other people.

"It was a great experience," said Amy Cheshire, OSC historian. "I had the opportunity to do something that I have never done before. It really made me feel good to work with other women and help the community," she added.

Flint River Habitat for Humanity builds five homes a year in the Woodland Oaks subdivision, a community comprised of more than 40 homes built by the organization. The purpose of the campaign is to eliminate substandard housing.

Through volunteer labor and donations of money and materials, Habitat for Humanity builds and rehabilitates simple, decent houses.

"There is a large need in this area for homes," Armitage said.

"There are a lot of families in places that really aren't fit for living. We get people out of those kinds of places, and give them the opportunity to own a home. If not for this program, many people wouldn't have that kind of opportunity," she explained.

The most recent home being built is for Brenda Williams and her three children. Williams applied for a home last fall, and now her dream is coming true.

"Right now, I live in a bad neighborhood filled with gangs, drugs and violence," Williams said. "I want to move so that my children will be safe. I really believe that this is going to benefit my family immensely."

Williams has lived in an area that she describes as "the projects" for 10 years, and has struggled as a single parent. Now, Habitat for Humanity and volunteers are making it possible for her to own her own home.

"One large part of being in the Officers' Spouses Club is helping the community," said Marci Stewart, OSC president. "This was the perfect opportunity for the spouses to help. We left with a great sense of accomplishment knowing that we had helped someone."

Habitat houses are affordable for low-income families because there is no profit included in the sale price and no interest charged on the mortgage. Mortgage length varies from seven to 30 years. The houses built are sold at no profit, and financed with no-interest loans.

The homeowners' monthly mortgage payments are used to build additional Habitat houses.

The only other requirement to receive a home is an investment of some 300 to 500 hours of "sweat equity."  The new owners must spend that many hours working on either their home or building another.

"I have enjoyed working on my home," Williams said. "Working alongside the women has been a good experience. It means a lot to my family to be helped with something so important and have all of this support from the community."

For more information on becoming a Habitat for Humanity volunteer, individuals should contact the Flint River Habitat for Humanity at 446-8199.

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