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Two elected to Habitat board in Chambersburg

November 23, 2001

Two elected to Habitat board in Chambersburg



By STACEY DANZUSO / chbbureau@innernet.net

Mary Mackey and Gregory Ohler say they just stumbled into their volunteer work with Habitat for Humanity.

Mackey, the manager of the Credit Bureau of Greater Chambersburg in 1995, was asked to interpret one of the first credit reports for the Franklin County chapter of Habitat, a Christian housing ministry that builds homes for qualified people.

"As a result, I was called to give an explanation to the Family Selection Committee and soon found myself on the committee as a member," said Mackey, 76.

As easy as that, the former Chambersburg businesswoman had another community involvement.

Now retired from her job, Mackey was elected to begin a three-year term on the Habitat board beginning in January.

Ohler, 28, general manager of the Fairfield Inn in Chambersburg, said his former supervisor at the hotel introduced him to Habitat a few years ago.

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For the last two years, Ohler has organized the annual dinner-auction, one of the primary fund-raisers for Habitat for Humanity of Franklin County.

Ohler, of Waynesboro, will also begin serving a three-year term on the board in January. He was elected chairman of the Finance Committee.

Habitat's bylaws permit from 12 to 24 board members. There will be 18 beginning in 2002, said Don Howard, secretary.

The board is responsible for all of Habitat's business, from planning how many houses to build each year to determining who gets to live in them, Howard said.

Including about 50 board and committee members, there are nearly 150 active Habitat volunteers in Franklin County, but there always is a need for more, he said.

Mackey, chairman of the Family Selection Committee, said that almost every day she is doing something Habitat-related, such as fielding calls from potential housing candidates and helping families in the application process.

In addition to an application, families interested in owning a Habitat house, which they purchase from the organization at cost with a no-interest mortgage, must submit to a credit report, fall within income guidelines and demonstrate a real need for housing, Mackey said.

What stemmed from one credit report has become a passion for Mackey.

"It is part of my mission in life to help these people," she said.

Mackey worked at the credit bureau for 38 years as manager-partner and owner of the firm. She is an active member of Chambersburg Business and Professional Women and the Chambersburg Area Hospital Auxiliary.

Ohler's work with Habitat has centered on the dinner-auction, but once he becomes a board member he is looking forward to getting more involved in other aspects of the process.

"It's kind of exciting that organizations do things like this to stabilize the community," he said.

He's already working on next year's banquet, which will be held May 10 at Orchards Restaurant in Chambersburg.

Ohler joined the staff of Fairfield Inn by Marriott in Chambersburg in 1997 and became the hotel's general manager two years later.

A native of Windber, Pa., Ohler joined the Navy in 1991 and served three years with the submarine fleet. As a yeoman third class on a nuclear vessel, he held a key role on board and was responsible for a variety of management duties, purchasing and personnel issues.

Habitat for Humanity is a nonprofit housing ministry. Almost all of the work on the houses is done by volunteers.

Funds and building materials are provided by businesses, churches, individuals, foundations and other organizations. In some cases, limited government assistance helps with the acquisition of land.

Factors in family selection include the need for decent and affordable housing, ability to make regular payments on a no-interest mortgage and willingness to invest "sweat equity" in the construction of a new home.

Organized in 1993, Habitat for Humanity of Franklin County has built 13 homes and plans to build two or more every year for families on limited incomes. It turned over the keys to its most recent home during a ceremony last month in Hamilton Township.

For more information on Habitat for Humanity of Franklin County, call 1-717-267-1899.

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