Volunteers man the hammers for Habitat

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Area Habitat for Humanity volunteers pooled their efforts recently on two townhouses in the Glenwood Mews community in Alexandria, answering a homeowners dream to two families in need.

Glenwood Mews is a group of 17 townhouses along Telegraph Road in the Fairfax County part of Alexandria. Of the 17 townhouses, which are being constructed by Centennial Contractors, two of them are Habitat houses and 15 are owned by the Fairfax County Redevelopment and Housing Authority who are working with Inova Hospitals on this project to build affordable housing for hospital employees.
Theyre partners with us on our magnet housing, said Tina Norvell, spokesperson for the Fairfax County Housing and Community Development. Originally, the countys magnet housing program was aimed at county teachers, fire department, police and bus drivers, but it was extended with this partnership.
The 15 townhouses will be rented to qualified Inova employees, and the two Habitat for Humanity homes are being sold for no profit, with a zero percent interest loan. These four bedroom townhouses are going for approximately $150,000, and a comparable home in the same area goes for around $400,000. The two lucky families were selected last January out of 125 applicants, and are required to have an annual salary of approximately $27,900.

They must have a need for housing, said Habitat for Humanity of Northern Virginia spokesperson Virginia Patton. Another project underway currently for HHNVA is a 12-unit condominium in Fairfax County.

Bill Kehoe is with a group from Fairlington United Methodist Church that will help out in the summer long process. Kehoe knows a little bit about a lot of handy homeowner skills that come in handy, including electrical work, carpentry and plumbing. Our church is very active in the Habitat program, Kehoe said. Its a community project, kind of a mission of the church. The volunteers take all shapes though, and skills arent necessarily required. Some people just come to clean up at the site, Kehoe said.

Hard work underway
On Friday, July 6, Habitat workers showed up, put on their hard hats, and went to work under the supervision of Harry Street, a full time employee of Habitat. Street owned a contracting company for a few years but went to work building houses for others. I just kind of shut my business down and worked for Habitat, its time to give back, he said. Street sees a lot of retirees on the site. Theyll come out every day we have a work day, he said. We get a lot of corporate sponsors too, kind of like a team-building thing.

On the first day, about six people showed up and started stapling up insulation above the ceiling of the first house. Bob Noe was a volunteer with the Church of the Resurrection in Alexandria, while Lisa Kelly saw the sign while driving by and decided to stop. Kelly is an instructional coach with Fairfax County Public Schools, and she has a month off so shes volunteering.

I think its a great way to help the community and give back, she said. Kelly is even considering using her experience in a school lesson. The whole idea of giving back and service learning, she said. Before coming to the county, Kelly was a teacher at John Adams and Cora Kelly Elementary Schools in Alexandria.

This was Noes fifth or sixth worksite hes helped out on. In addition to working on the job sites, he mans the Habitat ReStore on Richmond Highway, where they sell construction materials at low cost.

Habitat for Humanity International is an ecumenical Christian ministry based in Americus, Ga. Since its beginning in 1976, habitat has built more than 200,000 houses in nearly 100 countries, providing simple, decent and affordable shelter for nearly one million people, according to information released by the organization.

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