Can you think of a more exciting gift than a new house? And what if it was the first time you'd ever owned a house of your own?
That's the gift that Habitat for Humanity and a group of Lawrence churches made possible for a local family last week. The Wileys are the 53rd family that has been able to obtain and finance a home through Lawrence's Habitat organization since it built its first home in 1989. Habitat families are unable to obtain conventional mortgages, but they make payments to Habitat, which recycles the money to build more homes.
Donated funds and materials along with various volunteers and volunteer groups work with Habitat to make this possible. The latest home was part of the "Building of Faith" program that brought together volunteers from 12 local churches. The same group plans to start another Habitat house in 2005.
The new owners are required to invest at least 200 hours of "sweat equity" in the construction of their new home. The philosophy of Habitat is that those who work on their own homes will be sure to value and maintain them.
The value Habitat families place on their new homes is more than the value of the property. It is a matter of pride and the knowledge that they have accepted the responsibility of home ownership. They are able to provide a home for their family that they never would have been able to afford without the "hand up" from Habitat for Humanity.
It's a great gift for the individual families and a great organization that works year-round to build our community.