Florida volunteers, Air Force
to launch next step
on ‘Higher Ground'
For release March 1, 2006
A team of Habitat for Humanity volunteers from the Florida panhandle will raise the walls on the fourth house in the "Building on Higher Ground" initiative in one day - Saturday, March 4. The work is scheduled to begin about 7:30 a.m. and continue throughout the day in the 1500 block of Clay Street in the Allendale community.
The Habitat for Humanity affiliate in Okaloosa County, Florida, will be joined by servicemen and women from the 2nd Munitions Squadron at Barksdale Air Force Base and by members of St. Joseph's Catholic Church, who will paint and perform other jobs on the first three houses, which are now nearly finished.
"Building on Higher Ground" is the vision of Millard Fuller, founder of Habitat for Humanity and now the founder and president of The Fuller Center for Housing in Americus, Ga. Working in partnership with Shreveport-Bossier Community Renewal, numerous Habitat affiliates, the City of Shreveport and other groups, The Fuller Center has committed to build 60 houses for hurricane evacuees and other needy residents in Shreveport.
The Air Force team is planning to return to the site March 11 to put up the walls on three more houses. These new three-bedroom units are designed as urban townhomes and will add to the rebirth of this particular neighborhood. The "Higher Ground" houses have unique features, detailed craftsmanship on the front porches and a variety of designs - all part of the effort to build not just houses, but a neighborhood that is welcoming and appealing to residents and visitors.
Families who move into the area will find immediate friendship and support from the two SBCR Friendship Houses now operating in Allendale. The new houses are going up in the same block as the SBCR Friendship Houses.
The volunteers are eager to get to work on this next phase of building.
"After Katrina hit, our area received a lot of the evacuees. At the same time, our affiliate wanted to do something to help. When Millard told me that he had secured land in Shreveport and that he wanted to build homes for the families that had evacuated there, we jumped at it," said Nitsi Bennett, executive director of the Okaloosa Habitat affiliate in Fort Walton Beach, Fla.
The Okaloosa volunteers have already put more than 100 hours into the project by building the walls for the house in Florida. Mayflower is donating the shipping to get the walls to Shreveport, where about 17 Okaloosa volunteers will assemble them into a house structure.
The walls for the other three units of the urban townhomes have been constructed by inmates in Illinois prisons through the "Building Homes: Rebuilding Lives" outreach coordinated by Lutheran Social Services of Illinois.
"Prisons all over the state want to be involved. I will do my best to see that everyone who wants to participate gets a chance," said John S. Holmes, coordinator of "Building Homes: Rebuilding Lives."
"We are also getting a lot of support from truckers that are willing to make the trip if we will pay for their fuel. This entire project is bringing together a lot of really good-hearted people. I hope the recipients of these homes will get the full story of who contributed - especially how joyful the inmates are at being able to help a family in need."
Work on the first three houses of the project is nearing completion and the first families, forced to flee their New Orleans area homes by Hurricane Katrina, will soon be moving into their new homes.
Shreveport-Bossier Community Renewal is a nonprofit effort to restore safe and healthy communities through caring relationships. Founded in 1994, SBCR reaches at-risk youth through Friendship Houses built in impoverished neighborhoods, strengthens education through the Adult Renewal Academy, partners with The Fuller Center for Housing and connects caring partners who turn their neighborhoods into safe havens of friendship and support.
Contact: David Westerfield, director of communications