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Habitat for Humanity finishing second group of Berkeley homes

March 23, 2000|By ANDREW SCHOTZ

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Habitat for Humanity is filling out a second pocket of new homes in Berkeley County.

Members of the Harpers Ferry Job Corps were on Arch Street Monday, laying masonry blocks for Habitat's 12th house in the Eastern Panhandle.

It will be the third Habitat house on Arch Street, which is near the junction of U.S. 11 and W.Va. 9 on Martinsburg's southeast fringe. They are all on the same block.

The frame of Habitat's 11th house, nearby, is complete, but it still needs siding. Lucinda Bean is anxious to move in with her 8-year-old granddaughter, Jasmine.

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Bean has been consulting with builders as they customize the house for her. Since she's 4-foot-1, the cabinets and the mirrors can't be too high, for example.

She is also hoping the house will have a ramp, since her bones are deteriorating and she has asthma, Bean said.

In the next lot over, the Brinklow family moved into the 10th Habitat house about 21/2 months ago.

Habitat for Humanity of the Eastern Panhandle is the local branch of a national organization that enlists volunteer workers and contributors to build low-cost houses for families.

The families must agree to put in at least 500 hours of "sweat equity," working on the houses themselves, according to David Miller, the local Habitat vice president.

"This brought the family together," said Kenneth Brinklow. He and his wife, Frances, live with four of their five children: Michelle, 15; Amanda, 13; Kenneth, 12; and Danielle, 10. Another daughter is grown and also lives in Martinsburg.

The Brinklows had rented a home for about two years in the Sleepy Hollow area in northwest Berkeley County. When their landlord decided to sell their home and they couldn't afford to buy it, she helped them find an alternative.

Kenneth Brinklow, who works for a Hedgesville, W.Va., painting company, said he was "very surprised" to hear about the Habitat program.

The family members all pitched in, and they met plenty of helpers along the way.

A core group of the volunteers are retired men in their 70s. Miller said they're like "a fraternity."

One of them is E.B. Lawson, the construction supervisor for the last few houses, taking over for John Maley, who oversaw the first nine or so.

Marcia Lavorini, who works with the families before and after they move in, said Lawson is soft-spoken but has an uncanny knack. "He can go anywhere in Martinsburg and get us things for free," such as siding, cement or insulation, she said.

Arch Street is resembling Charles Street and English Street. Habitat crews have built eight homes there.

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