New Jersey Volunteers Build Habitat Home In Waveland

It took time and money to get this good hearted group from the Garden State to the Magnolia State.

"We started a year ago to raise the money," says Patterson, New Jersey Habitat for Humanity Executive Director Barbara Dunn. "We're from a poor urban area in Patterson. We had to raise $75,000 to sponsor this house and that was a big deal for us."

But in just one week, Dunn says they've progressed from a slab to a nearly completed future home for single mother and Waveland resident Toni Thomas.

"We said we needed to get the crew down here before your hot summer and start building this house," says Dunn.

"We're going to have 100 percent of the exterior done and probably 10 to 15 percent of the interior done," says local Habitat Construction Manager Jeremiah Sarbacher. "They've done a great job this week.

Sarbacher says this is the third blitz build Habitat has conducted in Hancock County in the past two months.

"And next week, we have more volunteers coming in," says Sarbacher. "They're going to come in right behind them and help them out, and we'll finish this house and start another one."

Habitat's goal is to build a thousand homes by this summer, throughout Hurricane Katrina and Rita effected areas.  And it's volunteers like these that they're counting on to make that happen.

"They come in, show up, and we build a house with them," says Sarbacher.

And like these two dozen Patterson residents, hopefully, they return home with a new commitment to helping hurricane victims.

"Americans are good hearted, but have short attention spans," says Dunn. "This is going to be a five to ten year rebuilding. What I see our value is, beyond building this house, is going back and telling our story, and saying, you know, 'There's folks down there who are still in trailers.'"

And those are stories that Dunn says the rest of the country can't be allowed to forget.

AmeriCorps volunteers also helped out in this week's building blitz. This will be the fifth Habitat home completed in Waveland since Hurricane Katrina.