Lafayette HFH: A perfect convergence of hospitality and hard work -- Habitat for Humanity Int'l 1

Lafayette HFH: A perfect convergence of hospitality and hard work

A bevy of Baptists and a crew of hard-working inmates made tremendous progress toward getting 12 families into new homes in the community of Kaplan as part of the 2008 Carter Project. Crews have started interior finish work on the first six homes, and the remaining six have storage sheds built and some framing components completed, according to Melinda Taylor, executive director of Lafayette Habitat for Humanity.

The affiliate in Lafayette Parish, Louisiana, held a four-week building blitz that culminated during the official Carter Project week, May 11-16. The Baptist World Alliance sent volunteers from 17 churches in Virginia, Missouri, Alabama, West Virginia, North Carolina, Arizona, Maryland and Ontario, Canada.

“For us, the Carter Project week was when the locals stepped up to the plate,” Taylor said. “Local volunteers had already been involved in supporting the build in a big way, working alongside the BWA groups as well as providing food, entertainment and sharing their stories—and they love to tell stories down here! When the Carter week rolled around, most of the action on our site was from the home crowd swinging their hammers.

“We had an amazing crew of inmates from the Lafayette Parish Correctional Center,” Taylor said. “Several men, supervised by a sheriff’s officer, joined us for the first two weeks of the build, and by the second week they were leading the crew!”

The local support was overwhelming, Taylor said, citing several people specifically: Mike Neustrom, sheriff of Lafayette Parish; Rob Reardon, director of corrections; and Kaplan Mayor Linda Hardee, whose “hospitality crew” did an outstanding job of making on-site meals a memorable experience for volunteers. “One of the highlights, according to some of our out-of-towners, was the crawfish etoufee made by the Vermilion Parish sheriff’s crew,” said Taylor.

In a dramatic conclusion to the week, the Vermilion Honor Guard provided a 21-gun salute, and the Kaplan VFW is donating a flagpole and an American flag for the entrance to the brand-new subdivision.

Looking ahead, framing will begin on house No. 7 in Kaplan in July, Taylor said, with the remaining homes to be completed during accelerated builds in the fall.

“We are very excited to announce another partnership with Job Corps, who worked with us on a 12-house blitz build last year to build houses that were funded by Major League Baseball,” Taylor said. “They’re coming back to help us finish the Kaplan houses this fall!”

Momentum is a powerful force, which is important to remember nearly three years after the deadly hurricane season of 2005.

“The job’s still not finished,” Taylor said. “There are still so many people who were displaced by both storms in our area who are trying to re-establish their lives.”

How to volunteer:
Call 337-261-5041 or visit http://local.habitat.org/lafayettela