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Habitat for Humanity benefits everyone

Habitat for Humanity is one of the most meaningful charitable endeavors in existence today.

The program provides qualified families with access to the American dream of home ownership, but does so in a way in which families feel as if they've worked for something. Moreover, volunteers who participate in the program come away knowing first-hand that they've helped someone in need.

In short, everyone involved in a Habitat for Humanity project has a stake in that project, and thus benefit from it.

Habitat for Humanity, an ecumenical Christian ministry that seeks to eliminate poverty housing, operates on donated building materials and volunteer labor needed to complete single-family homes. The home is then sold to a low-income family, who pays back the cost of the house at zero percent interest. That money is then used in support of future projects. Homeowners are required to put in time building their new house.

Fayette County, one of the poorest in the state, certainly fits the profile of an area that could use the presence of Habitat for Humanity. The county has a high unemployment rate, and many of the people who do work earn salaries that are not high enough to make home ownership possible.

There is a Fayette chapter, but it is struggling. Founded in 2000, the Fayette County Chapter of Habitat for Humanity is in the process of constructing its first home. The project has slowed somewhat due to a shortfall in funding - a typical home requires $50,000 worth of materials and other expenses needed to make a parcel suitable for building.

Ray Polaski, president of the local chapter, has appealed to the public for help in financing this and future projects. Polaski says that if each resident in the county donated a dollar, or if each church donated $600, it would raise enough to construct three new homes.

But money isn't the whole story. To bring a project to completion, the organization needs volunteers, whether it is someone actually providing labor on site or organizing fund-raisers.

Is there an incentive to donate that dollar, to hammer nails on a Saturday• You bet there is. A lack of suitable housing for those less fortunate in our midst is everyone's problem. It's a problem that brings entire communities down. Helping programs like Habitat for Humanity benefits everyone. For those who get to move into a new home, there's the joy of home ownership; for those who helped make it a reality through giving - of time or money - there's the joy of having helped someone less fortunate.

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