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States’ First Families and Habitat for Humanity kick off nationwide homebuilding initiative

First Ladies of Alabama, Arkansas, and Maine join women volunteers to mark the start of 50-state homebuilding program

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A First Families Building Homes Across America team of women leaders and volunteers helped a family realize its dream of homeownership.

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MOBILE, Ala. (May 9, 2006) – Before sunrise this morning, three governors’ spouses joined dozens of women volunteers on a Habitat for Humanity build site to kick off the First Families Building Homes Across America program, an ambitious new initiative by Habitat for Humanity’s Women Build, which is nationally underwritten by Lowe’s. During this two-year program, governors’ spouses and other local and state-wide leaders will work with Habitat and women volunteers to construct new homes with a family in need in every U.S. state and the District of Columbia.

To jumpstart this two-year program, First Families Building Homes Across America officially begins today in Mobile and continues with Habitat Women Builds in 11 states in the week leading up to and immediately following the May 14 Mother’s Day holiday. In addition to Mobile, communities participating in the two-week Mother’s Day First Families kickoff builds include Little Rock, Ark.; San Jose, Calif.; Denver,. Jacksonville, Fla.; Bloomington, Ill.; Detroit; Tulsa, Okla.; Sea Island, S.C.; Knoxville, Tenn.; and Washington, D.C.

“After last year’s devastating hurricanes, the Gulf Coast is the perfect place to kick off this important initiative, one that helps address an issue affecting almost every community in the United States – the need for quality, affordable housing,” explains Arkansas First Lady Janet Huckabee, who was joined in Mobile for today’s kickoff event by First Ladies Patsy Riley (Ala.), and Karen Baldacci (Maine). “And, I can’t think of a better time than Mother’s day to start.

“I think I can speak for my peers across the country when I say how proud and honored I am to be part of the First Families program that not only helps provide women with home ownership opportunities they might not otherwise have, but also enlists, trains and empowers women volunteers to pick up hammers and power tools and help build a better future for families and their children.”

All homes built as part of the First Families program will be Habitat Women Build homes. Women Build, underwritten nationally by Lowe’s, makes homeownership a reality by recruiting, nurturing and training women volunteers to construct and maintain simple, decent and affordable homes, allowing women from all walks of life to help families build better futures for children. More than 800 Habitat homes have been built by women crews since 1991.

“Habitat’s Women Build is an important program not only for helping move families and their children out of poverty, but also for providing women the confidence and skills to build homes and dreams,” said Larry D. Stone, chairman of the Lowe’s Charitable and Educational Foundation. “Speaking for Lowe’s and its employees in communities across the country, being able to support Women Build in ways large and small is extremely rewarding for everyone involved.”

The home in Mobile that Huckabee, Riley and Baldacci are building with local volunteers will be owned by Katreca Dixon, a single mother of two boys, 13 and 2-months, whose home was severely damaged last fall by Hurricane Katrina. Like all Habitat partner families, Ms. Dixon will invest hundreds of hours of sweat equity in building her new home and is required to complete courses offered by Habitat in personal finance and homeownership skills.

“I’m so grateful for the tremendous support we’ve received since last year’s hurricanes and while there’s still a great deal of work to be done here and throughout the Gulf Coast, we hope the First Families program will inspire mothers, grandmothers, daughters and sisters to pick up hammers with Habitat to help create affordable housing in their community so that children and families can thrive,” said Alabama First Lady Patsy Riley. “I’m so happy to be here today to help raise the walls on Katreca Dixon’s new home and help my fellow First Ladies kick off this important nationwide program.”

Following the First Families kickoff on May 9, governors’ spouses will join women volunteers to build a Lowe’s-sponsored Habitat house in each U.S. state and the District of Columbia over the next two years. The program gives women the opportunity to learn construction skills and to use these skills to help move families out of poverty. Further information is available at www.Lowes.com/Habitat.

About Habitat for Humanity International
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Habitat for Humanity International is an ecumenical Christian ministry that welcomes to its work all people dedicated to the cause of eliminating poverty housing. Since its founding in Americus, Ga., in 1976, Habitat has built more than 200,000 houses in nearly 100 countries, providing simple, decent and affordable shelter for more than one million people. For more information, visit www.habitat.org.

About Lowe’s:
Lowe’s is a proud supporter of Habitat for Humanity International, American Red Cross, United Way of America, and the Home Safety Council, in addition to numerous non-profit organizations and programs that help communities across the country. In 2005, the Lowe’s Charitable and Educational Foundation awarded $13 million to diverse organizations across the United States. Lowe’s also encourages volunteerism through the Lowe’s Heroes program, a company-wide employee volunteer initiative. Lowe’s is a FORTUNE® 50 company with fiscal year 2005 sales of $43.2 billion and has more than 1,250 stores in 49 states. For more information, visit http://www.lowes.com/community/ .