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Woman gets keys to new duplex

February 06, 2005|by PEPPER BALLARD

pepperb@herald-mail.com

BOONSBORO - Cars were parked awkwardly on streets surrounding 47 St. Paul St. in Boonsboro Saturday afternoon, but the alley running in front of the new Habitat for Humanity duplex was clear for traffic headed to its dedication.

At a Habitat for Humanity of Washington County dedication ceremony Saturday, Renae, who did not want her last name to be printed, was handed the keys to her half of the duplex that was temporarily blocked from being built last summer because of a town resident's objection to it fronting the narrow alley.

The floors were covered in plastic and no furniture had been moved into the small home by Saturday, but it was filled with Habitat for Humanity board members, sponsors and volunteers who turned out for the dedication. Renae, who has a son, was given tools, an owner's manual, Bibles and blessings.

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Sherry Brown Cooper, executive director of Habitat for Humanity of Washington County, said that more than 500 volunteers worked to build the house over the summer, about 75 percent of whom were new to the program.

Habitat for Humanity is a grass-roots organization that builds affordable homes for people worldwide.

Cooper said the Saint Paul Street house, the other half of which will be dedicated next Sunday, was built over more than four months, whereas a typical Habitat house takes about six months to build.

Cooper smiled when asked why so many people turned out to help get the Saint Paul Street duplex built.

She said they came out "because they believe in Habitat's mission and because they want to see more affordable housing in our county."

She said that volunteers "made sacrifices" to get the building finished. The foundation for the duplex was laid in a 10-day period in which volunteers "worked 'til dark."

"People took vacation days. Others would get off here and then go to work," she said.

She said food from Boonsboro-area restaurants was donated to the workers during a three-week stretch of labor.

Cooper said that by the end of this month, the county Habitat affiliate, which was established in 1994, will have built 20 homes.

After Renae was led room to room for blessings, she returned to the center of the living room for more prayers.

She was handed a Bible for herself and one for her son, who she did not wish to name or release his age.

Carroll Earp, Washington County Habitat board member and building committee member, handed Renae a set of tools "that will help you solve any problems that we left for you," he told her and laughed.

Renae, who had to volunteer 500 hours with Habitat before moving into her house, shook her head, pursed her lips and tried to compose herself.

"This is just so overwhelming," she said through tears. "You did a wonderful job."

The "Banking on Our Communities House" was sponsored by Hagerstown Trust Co., Waypoint Bank, Citigroup, First National Bank of Greencastle, Washington County Gaming Commission and the Richard N. Funkhouser Foundation, Cooper said.

In June, Karen Shifler, of 128 Lakin Ave., obtained a temporary restraining order from a Washington County Circuit judge preventing Habitat from building the duplex.

The restraining order soon was lifted. Cooper said Saturday that talk of the summer controversy has been "quiet" lately.

Shifler had said she objected to the duplex mainly because it fronts a narrow alley off St. Paul Street, creating a safety hazard for emergency vehicles and a tight crunch for other traffic.

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