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Churches, coalitions build house for family in need

September 19, 2010|By ALICIA NOTARIANNI
  • Charles Morgan and his son, Spencer, check the alignment of a wall section Saturday at a Habitat for Humanity of Washington County house project at the corner of Linwood Road and Wellington Avenue in Hagerstown. Last year the Morgans moved into their own Habitat home in Hagerstown. They have volunteered on several Habitat projects since.
By Kevin G. Gilbert, Staff Photographer

HAGERSTOWN -- Jesus chose 12 apostles and sent them forth on a mission, the Bible says.

Habitat for Humanity of Washington County carried out that idea Saturday at an Apostles Build wall raising at the corner of Linwood Road and Wellington Avenue in Hagerstown. Twelve area church or coalitions partnered with Habitat to build a house for an area family in need.

Cindy Brown, who serves on Habitat for Humanity of Washington County's board of directors, said while it is standard for Habitat to partner with volunteer entities to provide housing, the Apostles Build concept has specific features that set it apart from the nonprofit's other projects.

"Apostles Build is unique because it brings together 12 churches or coalitions, and each of them accepts one-12th of the responsibility for project costs," Brown said.

Nineteen area congregations comprised the 12 coalitions to support the Linwood Road home, agreeing to fund $5,500, Brown said. In addition to financial support, the entities provided at least one person to serve on the Apostles Build steering team; publicity for the project within their coalition; physical labor to build the house; and prayer regarding the project.

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Habitat for Humanity of Washington County is a locally run affiliate of Habitat for Humanity International. Sherry Brown Cooper, executive director of the Washington County affiliate, said the Apostles Build project is the first of its kind in the county.

"I think this is fabulous," Brown Cooper said. "Of all the denominations represented here, what they all have in common is God. No matter how they worship him, everyone out here is working to serve God."

Franceine Jones said the project was "all God." Jones, 42, of Hagerstown, and her son, Jakerian Jones, 15, will move into the house upon its completion.

Jones decided to contact Habitat after her friend, Michelle Shaffer, had partnered with the organization.

"(Shaffer) told me it was a great program, and I've always dreamed of owning a home," Jones said.

While Jones worked steadily over the years, her income as a single mother was not adequate to fulfill that dream. When she went to the Habitat office for information, she was greeted by Sharon Hawkins, one of just three employees of the organization. Hawkins had been Jones' supervisor at a medical laboratory, where Jones worked as a phlebotomist years before.

"What are the chances of me meeting her twice in one lifetime?" Jones said. "I knew God had sent me there. There was no way I just happened to come across the same woman for a job and then for a home. She steered me in the right direction, and here I am."

Habitat bills its work as "a hand-up, not a handout" to provide safe, decent and affordable homes for low-income families in need.

Since applying to partner with Habitat more than two years ago, Jones has nearly fulfilled the organization's requirements for homeowners to put in 500 hours of "sweat equity" and to complete classes to promote responsible financial management, self-sufficiency and successful home ownership. Jones has agreed to pay back a no-profit, no-interest home loan with affordable monthly payments.

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