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Habitat for Humanity to build two houses in three days

March 30, 2005|by DANIEL J. SERNOVITZ

daniels@herald-mail.com

HAGERSTOWN - At the end of the day on April 25, two houses will stand on Vickie Drive at Gateway Crossing in Hagerstown on what will be, until April 23, vacant lots.

Habitat for Humanity of Washington County representatives at a Tuesday press conference unveiled plans to build homes at 246 and 248 Vickie Drive in only three days.

"This is very exciting and something to really celebrate," said Sherry Brown Cooper, executive director of Habitat's Washington County affiliate, at the organization's Presbyterian Church of Hagerstown headquarters.

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"It is a rain-or-shine event ... It's going to be a construction party," she said.

"Basically, it's controlled chaos, we have people running in many different directions," said contractor Tom Gerdy, of Lynchburg, Va. "If you think it's crazy having 150 people out on a construction site for a build, it is, but it's great."

Gerdy, practiced in such projects, will lead the "Blitz Build" effort and will bring with him about 55 volunteers from about 11 states who will travel, at their own expense, to lend a hand.

Cooper said the Blitz Build was arranged to mark Habitat's 700th home built in Maryland for low-income residents, an ongoing effort that has placed 2,000 men, women and children in homes built with the help of 80,000 volunteers.

Working with Habitat are area groups and organizations, including First Data Merchant Services and the Women Build department of Habitat, both of which have agreed to raise funds for, and take part in, the construction of the new homes.

Having grown up at Westview Homes public housing project, which was razed to make room for the Gateway Crossing public housing, Hagerstown native Gidget Maffitt said she knows the joy her efforts will lead to later this month.

An auditor for the state of Maryland, Maffitt recently bought her first home.

"It's great. I know how happy I was when I bought my house a couple of years ago and it's just a great feeling to have something that's yours," she said. "I think it's awesome. ... I've prospered in the community, and it's nice to actually go back to the place I grew up at."

Brown Cooper declined to identify the housing recipients but said both are single mothers of two children. She said one works full time and attends Hagerstown Community College with the goal of becoming a teacher. The second works full time for a nursing home.

While Habitat normally allows teenagers as young as 14 to take part, Cooper said that for this event, due to the amount of activity expected over the three days, only volunteers 18 or older will be permitted to take part.

Those interested in volunteering for full- or part-time shifts can contact Habitat at 301-791-9009 to register or to get more information.

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