Habitat For Humanity marked thirty years of operations in New Orleans with a major milestone, as they raised the first wall on the 500th home they've built here in their mission to provide housing for low income families.
Denise Brown helped lift the wall and nail it in place on the house she and her daughters will move into when it is finished.
"I'm so excited, Bill, I don't even have words, but I don't want to cry, I'm too excited," said Denise. And you, are you already looking for your room? "Yep," answered her daughter Erica. "I already think I know which room I want before they even build it."
My first Action Report on Habitat was in 1988, when they were struggling to build their second house with just $50 in the bank.
"You tend to forget about yourself when you go help someone else, and that's what's happening here," said Habitat leader Bill Bell at the time.
(Habitat For Humanity managers have plans for ten more projects in the coming year -- those were the words of a much younger Bill Capo in 1988).
Oh that is painful to watch. By the time Hurricane Katrina hit, they were on house 101. Then they made a huge committment, a committment they met with house 500.
"We had committed to 400 houses post Katrina, and the failure of the levees and floodwalls, so this satisfies that, but we're going strong," said Habitat Executive Director Jim Pate.
They plan to build at least thirty homes a year, that owners like Denise pay for with no interest mortgages, and by helping with construction.
"Financial support is critical for us to keep going. We're a non-profit," explained Jim Pate.
"You're building your own home," said Denise Brown. "ou can learn from them, as a woman, where you don't know how to paint, or how to do anythng. Everything I learned from Habitat. It's like I say, I don't need no handyman, I don't need to call nobody, I can fix that door myself." For more informaiton about Habitat, visit their website at www.habitat-nola.org.