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New Habitat home dedicated

September 15, 2007|By MARLO BARNHART

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Standing next to the newest Habitat for Humanity home built in the Eastern Panhandle, David Hartley said Friday afternoon it was hard to believe that the organization had accomplished so much in so little time.

"It was a hole in the ground Monday, and we are here dedicating on Friday," Hartley said of the "blitz build" home. Hartley is executive officer of the Eastern Panhandle Home Builders Association, which partnered with Habitat for Humanity of the Eastern Panhandle on the project.

Habitat for Humanity President Judy Boykin introduced Stephanie Smith, her son, Stephan Smith, and his fiance, Katriana Braden - the family selected to occupy the house at 326 Twigg Drive in Martinsburg's North End.

As she spoke, Boykin had to compete with workers who still were hammering and sawing, and dodged installers hauling flooring and carpet into the house.

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"We're building lives, not just houses," Boykin said.

With 27 houses under their belt, Habitat for Humanity of the Eastern Panhandle started putting up one house a year, and now builds an average of six houses a year.

The goal is to eliminate poverty for children so no child has to live in substandard housing, Boykin said.

With the family standing by his side, Pastor Ed Grove of Trinity United Methodist Church gave the blessing.

"This will be my first home," Stephanie Smith said. "We've been here every day working."

Now living in a mobile home in Hedgesville, W.Va., Stephanie Smith said she will continue to work on her new home and other Habitat homes as she completes her required 500 sweat-equity hours.

"We're about halfway through," she said as she happily showed people through her new home following the dedication ceremony.

This is the second year in a row that the Eastern Panhandle Home Builders Association has constructed a "blitz build" home for Habitat for Humanity. The "blitz build" involves planning, coordinating and constructing a complete "turn-key" home in one week.

Among those working on the house are some of the trade association's 325 members - from banks and mortgage lenders to builders and suppliers.

Lissa Wood is a Lowe's employee and enthusiastic Habitat volunteer who first lent her talents with last year's "blitz build" house.

"I do whatever needs to be done - today, I was painting, as you can see," Wood said, pointing to her paint-splattered hands.

The payoff is seeing the faces of the people who move into the home, Wood said.

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