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Paynesville Press - December 20, 2006

Habitat for Humanity house
in Paynesville receives grant

By Michael Jacobson

The first Habitat for Humanity house in western Stearns County should be built in Paynesville in 2007. The project, pursued by a local committee since February, received help last week with the acquisition of a $77,863 grant from Thrivent Financial for Lutherans.

This future home is part of the Thrivent Builds with Habitat for Humanity alliance with Thrivent Financial for Lutherans committing $24.5 million to build 355 additional homes in 43 states for families in need in 2007. Central Minnesota Habitat for Humanity - which is the umbrella organization for the local committee - was awarded three Thrivent Builds grants, one of which will help fund the first Habitat for Humanity home in Paynesville in 2007.

The local Habitat for Humanity committee, said chairman Allen Anderson, was very pleased to get the grant and grateful for all the support of the community in its fundraising so far.

The budget for the house is currently $119,000 but additional in-kind donations could lower that, said Anderson. In addition to the Thrivent grant, which will cover 70 percent of the building costs, the local committee needs to raise 10 percent from Lutheran sources and 20 percent from community at large.

Anderson said the committee would like to have all the necessary funds in hand before construction begins in the spring of 2007.

The local committee reached an agreement to purchase a lot on Coakley Street (a southerly loop off Spruce Street) in October. Now, with the grant, they need to continue fundraising, finish family selection (five local families have applied), and finalize the house design before construction starts in the spring.

Construction of Habitat for Humanity homes can take a little longer than a typical house, since in-kind donations, volunteer labor, the family's sweat equity, and any necessary licensed contractors must all be organized during the building.

"Our hope is to put a family in that house next fall," said Anderson. The local Habitat for Humanity committee has already raised over $20,000 for the project, including nearly $4,000 this fall ($1,922 from the Directors concert in November, $1,722 in donations at the local schools, and $279 for dining out at eight local restaurants.

Should funds be raised in excess of what is needed for this first house in 2007, it will be kept in Paynesville and will be used for future projects. As long as the need exists and the community supports projects, the local Habitat for Humanity committee views these efforts as continuous. "We're looking at this as an on-going effort," said Anderson.

Habitat for Humanity International is an ecumenical Christian ministry dedicated to the cause of eliminating poverty housing. Since its founding in Americus, Ga., in 1976, Habitat has built more than 200,000 houses in nearly 100 countries, providing simple, decent and affordable shelter for more than one million people.

Since 1989, Central Minnesota Habitat for Humanity - which serves Stearns, Benton, Wright, and Sherburne counties - has partnered with 41 families to build 41 homes.

"We are excited to again partner with Thrivent Financial," said Judy Carmack, executive director of Central Minnesota Habitat for Humanity. "This is providing the opportunity to build the first Habitat for Humanity family home in Paynesville. This partnership will help a family move out of substandard housing."

Thrivent Financial for Lutherans is a not-for-profit membership organization helping nearly three million members achieve their financial goals and give back to their communities. As a not-for-profit fraternal benefit society, Thrivent Financial sponsors national outreach programs and activities that support congregations, schools, charitable organizations, and individuals in need.

Thrivent Financial became Habitat for Humanity International's largest ally as a result of a four-year $105 million commitment to help increase the nonprofit housing ministry's home-building production. In addition, Thrivent Financial rallied its national network of nearly three million members to volunteer.

In 2006, the first year of the alliance, 313 families in 43 states achieved the dream of home ownership - a projected six-percent increase in Habitat's U.S. home production. Now in its second year, the alliance is again increasing Habitat's home construction by working with 256 Habitat affiliates to build 355 homes.

Thrivent Builds with Habitat for Humanity brings together two national nonprofit networks of 1,699 Habitat affiliates and 1,362 Thrivent volunteer chapters. Locally, the Western Stearns Thrivent volunteer chapter will be helping with the Paynesville home, working with the Paynesville area Habitat volunteers.

The need for an effort of this magnitude is great: More than 13 million U.S. households use at least half of their income to pay for housing. Millions more live in overcrowded conditions or housing with severe physical deficiencies, such as having no hot water, electricity or toilet.

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