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July 11, 1996

There is something deep inside most people that makes them want to share whatever good fortune has come along with others who have not fared as well. It becomes a passion with some folks and it drives them to find unusual ways to achieve that aim. Such a program is Habitat for Humanity, which is now becoming established right here in our own community.

The groundwork is still being laid, but a number of caring individuals have agreed to undertake this way of helping their ill housed neighbors in the Perry area. The program has met with great success in many parts of the U.S. and there is no reason to doubt that it will fare just as well here. The local group is in the process of making application to become an official Habitat for Humanity affiliate.

Habitat for Humanity is a Christian ministry that seeks to transform the lives of families and churches. It uses donated money and material to build simple, sturdy houses in partnership with families in need. Volunteers work side by side with Habitat homeowners as they put in their own labor -- "sweat equity" -- into building their houses. Partner families are able to purchase these homes with affordable, no interest loans. Their mortgage payments go into a revolving fund that is used to build more homes for families in need.

Each Habitat for Humanity affiliate assumes responsibility for family selection, site selection, construction work, fund-raising and family nurturing. The affiliate is managed by a board of directors that is made up of diverse citizens of various backgrounds and income levels. The board oversees several committees who are in charge of the many functions that exist at the local level of each community.

Local citizens who choose to become members of the Habitat affiliate are not charged membership fees, but are expected to voluntarily assist in providing services that are necessary to complete the construction of the house for the new homeowner. Volunteers may donate their time and talents in one of several areas. For example, building a home requires publicity, food for the work crews, "gofers" for materials, morning devotions, child care for the homeowner family, and site cleaners.

By ministering to the community, local Habitat for Humanity members can demonstrate sermons of love. And local churches can offer that support at several levels, also.

If you would like to participate in this new volunteer partnership or obtain more information, contact Rich Lambert, Mike Lumbers, Mary Jo Houghton or Mike Gard. Until the affiliate is official for this area, a steering committee is meeting the second and fourth Tuesday of each month, starting this week. The meetings will be at noon at the First Christian church, and they are open to the public.

Or, if you are interested in signaling your willingness to assist, fill out the information form found on page 5 of today's Journal and send it to Rich Lambert, Route 3 - Box 96-F, Perry, OK 73077. Be prepared to share the unique joy of doing something worthwhile and practical for a neighbor you may not even know. You'll find the rewards far outweigh the time and effort that are put into this program. It comes highly recommended.