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New Orleans Habitat Musicians’ Village dedicates first new homes

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The New Orleans Habitat Musicians’ Village was conceived by musicians Branford Marsalis and Harry Connick, Jr.

NEW ORLEANS (June 1, 2006) – Three new homes in what eventually will become a thriving neighborhood now stand as a testament to the determination of New Orleans to rebuild–and to the generosity of individual and corporate donors committed to helping with the massive rebuilding process.

Since groundbreaking began in the New Orleans Habitat Musicians’ Village in March, sponsors, volunteers, and partner families have concentrated their initial efforts on completing three homes on the 4000 block of North Roman Street in the city’s Upper Ninth Ward.

On Thursday those efforts culminated in a dedication ceremony celebrating the completion of the first three homes in the Musicians’ Village. The homes were sponsored by Suzanne and Bob Wright; Texas Roadhouse Restaurants; and Coca-Cola. Wright is vice chairman of General Electric Company and chairman and chief executive officer of NBC Universal.

Habitat partner families J.D. Hill and Polly Noble, Fredy Omar, and Patricia Richard will purchase the homes through Habitat’s traditional low-income homeownership program. The Musicians’ Village marks the beginning of Habitat’s rebuilding program in New Orleans’ Upper Ninth Ward.

The New Orleans Habitat Musicians’ Village, conceived by Branford Marsalis and Harry Connick, Jr. will consist of homes constructed by Habitat in partnership with displaced New Orleans musicians and other qualifying homeowner families. Its centerpiece will be the Ellis Marsalis Center for Music, dedicated to music education and development of homeowners and others who will live nearby, and named for the patriarch of the Marsalis clan, modern jazz pioneer and native New Orleanian.

“I feel great about being accepted. It helps to know your neighbors, and I’ll have my own space when I want to play and rehearse, to get together and share music…I’m just tickled to death,” said new homeowner J.D. Hill. “I’m going to fix up a room, put my band equipment in there and play.”

“I’m excited about the future, about my new home, and about the new opportunities that will become available as we rebuild,” said new homeowner Fredy Omar. “I am especially honored that I will be living in the Musicians’ Village and cannot wait to begin teaching music to the neighborhood children.”

New Orleans Habitat purchased 8.1 vacant acres that will eventually house 75 single family homes, 6 elder-friendly doubles, and the Ellis Marsalis Center for Music. The property will be considered the core of the Musicians’ Village. In the coming years, plans call for the construction of 300 additional homes in the surrounding Ninth Ward area.

As Habitat works to raise additional money, it also will be qualifying low-income New Orleans families in need of shelter and working with the music community to identify local musicians who are willing to partner with New Orleans Area Habitat and become homeowners in the Musicians’ Village.

About New Orleans Area Habitat for Humanity
New Orleans Area Habitat for Humanity (NOAHH), an independent affiliate of Habitat for Humanity International, is a 501(c) 3 non-profit organization. NOAHH builds new houses in partnership with sponsors, volunteers, communities, and homeowner families to eliminate poverty housing in the New Orleans area while serving as a catalyst to make decent shelter a matter of conscience and action. Since its inception in 1983, NOAHH has built over 100 new homes for low-income families in need of adequate shelter. In the coming years, NOAHH plans to build 1,500 homes in Orleans, Jefferson, St. Bernard, and Plaquemines parishes. To Donate go to www.habitat-nola.org and click on Musicians’ Village.

About Habitat for Humanity International
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 build more than 200,000 houses in nearly 100 countries, providing simple, decent and affordable shelter for more than 1 million people. For more information, visit www.habitat.org.

About Bob Wright
Bob Wright is chairman and chief executive officer of NBC Universal and vice chairman and executive officer of General Electric. He joined NBC as president and chief executive officer on Sept.1, 1986, and has had one of the longest and most successful tenures of any media company chief executive. The recipient of numerous honors, Wright recently received the Visionary Award from the Museum of Television & Radio and, in 2005, the Humanitarian Award from the Simon Wiesenthal Center. Wright serves on the board of directors of the Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation and the New York Center for Autism. He is a member of the Society of New York Hospital and of the board of governors of New York-Presbyterian Hospital. Along with his wife, Suzanne, Wright serves as co-founder of Autism Speaks, an initiative dedicated to raising public awareness and research funds to find the answers to autism.

About Texas Roadhouse
Based in Louisville, Ky., Texas Roadhouse opened its doors in 1993. In just 13 years, the company has grown to 235 locations in 42 states. In 2005, Texas Roadhouse was ranked #1 in the Nation’s Restaurant News list of Top 100 Growth Companies. Through Texas Roadhouse’s humanitarian effort, “Helping Hands,” the company has committed to sponsoring 100 Habitat for Humanity “House in a Box” homes along the Gulf Coast, focusing on New Orleans. In May 2007, the Texas Roadhouse annual conference will be held in New Orleans, culminating their “House in a Box” building effort. For more information, visit www.texasroadhouse.com.

About Coca-Cola
Founded in 1886, Coca-Cola is the world’s leading manufacturer, marketer, and distributor of nonalcoholic beverage concentrates and syrups, used to produce nearly 400 beverage brands. Its corporate headquarters are in Atlanta, with local operations in over 200 countries around the world.