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Habitat 'heroes' make woman feel like dream has come true

September 20, 2008|By MARIE GILBERT

SMITHSBURG -- Several years ago, Brian and Renee Goodwin learned something about themselves.

First, they discovered they could master construction skills. But more importantly, they found they could use those skills to help change lives.

Over the past few years, the Goodwins have volunteered with fellow employees at Citi to help build houses for Habitat for Humanity of Washington County.

Saturday morning, they volunteered again.

"This is important to us," Renee Goodwin said. "It's an easy way to serve other people."

The Greencastle, Pa., couple were among a large number of volunteers and members of the community who attended a groundbreaking ceremony for two Habitat houses in Smithsburg.

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The structures will be built on Colton Court in the Whispering Hills neighborhood on lots donated by Dan Ryan Builders. Construction is expected to being this fall.

This is the second time the local Habitat for Humanity has built outside of Hagerstown, said Kathy Powderly, Habitat's director of development. A Habitat home also is located in Boonsboro.

"We would love to build throughout the county, but it's hard to find affordable land," Powderly said. "That's why we are so appreciative of the generosity of Dan Ryan."

Construction of the homes also is possible thanks to a sponsorship by Citi of $32,500, a grant from the Maryland Affordable Housing Trust for $15,000 and donations of materials and skilled labor by local contractors, Powderly said.

On hand for the groundbreaking ceremony was Sharon Belair and her son, Kevin Griffin, who will be living in one of the homes on Colton Court.

"This is very exciting," Belair said. "Words can't describe how I feel. It's a dream come true."

Belair said she has been a single parent since her son was 3 months old.

"I never thought I would be able to own my own home until I learned about Habitat for Humanity," she said. "The Habitat people are like heroes to me. They've offered encouragement, ideas and have been a very positive influence in my life."

Belair said her son, who is 13, will begin high school next year, "so this is perfect timing. He'll be able to go to school just down the road. Everything has fallen into place wonderfully."

Standing on the ground that someday will be her home, Belair looked out at the farmland that she will see from her windows.

"This is so beautiful," she said. "This is like being on vacation. Except I'll have this view every day."

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