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Local man participates in Habitat for Humanity building project

November 12, 2006|by MARLO BARNHART

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - No stranger to Habitat for Humanity projects both at home and around the country, Hagerstown resident Charles Paul has just completed a 10-house blitz build as a member of a nationwide team of 300 volunteers.

A copier repairman who retired two years ago after 35 years on the job, Paul, 59, said he was selected to represent the Washington County Habitat affiliate on the Nashville trip.

Paul said he was to return to Hagerstown on Friday.

"I went to Alabama earlier this year to help build two houses," Paul said by telephone on Thursday from Nashville.

Paul began volunteering with Habitat nearly two years ago when he joined his first local blitz build, said Sherry Brown Cooper, executive director of Habitat for Humanity of Washington County. Since then, he has signed on as a construction manager, and currently serves on the affiliate building committee.

Paul has been involved in the construction of four Habitat houses with the Washington County affiliate.

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"Charlie is fabulous," Cooper said Friday. "The men respect him, and the women love him for his nonintimidating ways and his patience."

That, combined with his teaching skills, made him the choice to send to Nashville for the blitz build, Cooper said.

Paul's wife, Medea, is a schoolteacher who attends many Habitat events and is supportive of what he does, Cooper said.

The experience in Nashville was a positive one, Paul said, and he credited the Whirlpool Corporation for that.

The event was the inaugural Whirlpool Building Blocks project, an initiative created by the company to raise awareness of the affordable housing crisis and to help eliminate substandard housing in the United States, according to a press release from Whirlpool.

The build started Nov. 5.

For five days, Whirlpool put the volunteers up at the Gaylord Opryland Convention Center, Paul said.

"We had some rain earlier, so there is a lot of mud," Paul said Thursday. But then, the sun came out, and work was progressing on the last of the homes, he said.

Paul traveled to Nashville along with nearly 300 volunteers nationwide to help construct the 10 Habitat for Humanity houses in one week on one block in Nashville.

"It is amazing to be here in Nashville, and see the work that can be done in just one week," Paul said. "Whirlpool Building Blocks makes a difference, not only in the lives of the 10 families buying these houses, but in all of our communities."

Jeff Terry, director of corporate commitments for Whirlpool, said in the release that the program "has been a huge success, and we look forward to another build next year with another deserving community."

Paul's participation came as a result of a search to identify 100 of the high-performing Habitat affiliates from all 50 states. Those affiliates then were asked to nominate a person who demonstrates extraordinary commitment to improving the community through Habitat.

The Whirlpool-Habitat partnership began in 1999, and Whirlpool has said it plans to support every new Habitat home built globally by 2011, either through product donations, cash or home sponsorship.

"They contribute a stove and refrigerator for every house built," Cooper said.

Whirlpool made an additional $1.5 million commitment to fund this year's build in Nashville.

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