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Churches unite to build Habitat home

July 17, 2010|By MARIE GILBERT
  • Franceine Jones, right, gets emotional thanking the Apostles Build participants who will construct her new home. Ann Marie Downey, who is Jones' family partner in the project, and Jones' son, Jakerian, are also shown. Jones' home is the first Apostles Build project in Washington County.
Submitted photo,

They follow the teachings of a carpenter.

So it's only natural that they would want to build a house.

Over the next few months, members of 19 churches, as well as the Hagerstown Area Religious Council, will swap their hymn books for hammers as they begin construction on a home for a local family.

The project is part of Apostles Build, sponsored by Habitat for Humanity of Washington County.

The groundbreaking ceremony was held Saturday morning on Linwood Road in the Halfway area, with representatives of each church on hand to turn the first shovels of dirt.

According to Cindy Brown, a member of Habitat's board of directors, this will be the first Apostles Build house constructed in Washington County.

Apostles Build is offered internationally, she said, but it is up to each affiliate to decide if the concept will work in their community.

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"When we heard about the program, we wanted it to happen in Washington County," Brown said.

While most churches had no qualms about participation, Brown said the problem was the economy.

"Many churches are already stretched financially and are meeting their own congregational needs," she said. "One church, for example, is helping a family who was burned out of their home. That's why each church's commitment means so much to us."

Brown said the program allows individual churches or church partners to join together to construct a Habitat house.

Each apostle is responsible for one-twelfth of the cost of the home, as well as volunteers to serve on work teams, provide lunches and serve as liaisons for the project's steering committee.

Habitat provides the building site, house plan and construction expertise, as well as the deserving family.

The Apostles Build project on Linwood Road is the future home of Franceine Jones and her son, Jakerian, who participated in Saturday's groundbreaking ceremony.

"I've got a lot of emotions going today," Franceine Jones said. "I'm excited, happy and nervous."

Owning a home has "always been my dream," she said. "Now, it's becoming a reality. Today is a blessing."

Jones said she has completed 400 of her 500 hours of sweat equity required to own a Habitat home.

Though she works full time at Aaron's Sales and Lease, the Washington County resident said she found herself unable to afford a home.

When she heard about Habitat for Humanity through a friend, she decided to investigate.

After attending an information meeting, she knew this was something she wanted to pursue.

Now, she said, she is looking forward to decorating a new home and having a garden. She also hopes to get a college degree.

Brown said the uniqueness of Apostles Build is that it brings together people of all faiths who would never have a reason to build a house together.

Jackie Leimbach and Jodi Kissner of St. Joseph's Catholic Church agreed.

"This is a great opportunity to meet people from other congregations," Kissner said. "And it's a very good cause. We're thrilled to be a part of this."

Leimbach said Habitat sent letters to churches throughout Washington County, inviting them to participate in Apostles Build. When St. Joseph's received its letter, "our pastor decided to jump on it."

"He thought this was a very exciting opportunity to help others," she said.

Leimbach said St. Joseph's has a list of volunteers who are ready to get to work and already has held a spaghetti dinner as a fundraising event. A second dinner is planned on Sept. 25.

Brown said the Apostles Build project is more than a construction site.

"It's a story that begins with Franceine and her struggle and desire to have a place to call home," Brown said. "It's the story of those who have been asked to answer the call of Christ. We're answering that call today."

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