Habitat Bay-Waveland recognized for leading the nation - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Habitat Bay-Waveland recognized for leading the nation

By Al Showers – bio | email

HANCOCK COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - The Hancock County Habitat for Humanity affiliate has only been in operation for three years, but the work it's done in that time has captured the attention of the mother organization.

"We're really excited because we've been named 2009 affiliate of the year by Habitat for Humanity International. And there are over 1700 affiliates throughout Habitat around the United States," said Dave Walker, Communication Director For Habitat Bay-Waveland Area.

Most of those affiliates only build three to four homes a year. Habitat Bay-Waveland is averaging 40 homes annually. Part of why it's recognized as number one in its market size.

"They look at a wide variety of criteria, including the number of houses that you build, the money that you give to the international tithe. All Habitat affiliates give a certain amount of money to help with the world-wide movement to build houses overseas. So they look at that, they look at several other factors. Then all of that goes into some little calculation and we came up this year as the top affiliate," Walker said.

All of that building has had a significant economic impact on the area.

"Conservatively, about $14 million has been invested in Hancock County through Habitat for Humanity. That's really made us one of the largest builders of single family homes in Hancock County."

Perhaps the largest.

"We're not just building homes as quickly as we can, as cheaply as we can. We're building good solid homes that will be an asset to this community."

Walker said the goal for this year is to continue to build at the 42 home pace. He said corporate sponsors , donations and volunteers will be key to making that happen.

Just this week, the Bay-Waveland area Habitat hosted one of its largest groups of volunteers, 52 college students from Wilfrid Laurier University in Ontario, Canada.

"Most important what I want to take back is my experience and share with other people, let them know what it's really like to get out there and actually help somebody and really make a difference like that," said student Christel Wilkat.

Since the start of the chapter in 2006, more than 4,000 volunteers have helped the affiliate build 130 homes in Hancock County.

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