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Willow Creek Community Church near Chicago helps Habitat for Humanity’s work in the Gulf Coast

AMERICUS, Ga. (June 1, 2006) – Willow Creek Community Church, South Barrington, Ill., is partnering with Habitat for Humanity International to rebuild Gulf Coast communities still recovering from last year’s hurricane season.

Through a new partnership agreement, Willow Creek will send up to 210 volunteers to coastal Mississippi for five days in July to build seven houses. Six of these houses will be pre-framed in Chicago in the church’s parking lot on June 3-4 by the Willow community. The frames will be shipped to the Gulf Coast to jumpstart the building on the ground. Willow Creek is donating more than $230,000 for the project. The partnership will be coordinated through Operation Home Delivery, Habitat for Humanity International’s hurricane-recovery program.

“The devastation of Katrina captured the heart of our congregation,” said Bill Hybels, senior pastor of Willow Creek. “I am awestruck by the outpouring of their generosity. Since September, we’ve collected over $2 million in financial and material goods for Katrina victims, and after this Blitz Build, over 1,000 Willow Creekers will have volunteered in Gulf Coast rebuilding operations. We are thrilled to partner with Habitat because, finally, we’ll be able to experience opening the doors to new homes for people who have suffered so much loss.”

Willow Creek and Habitat have a growing partnership. The church has been involved with building projects locally throughout the Chicago area. Willow Creek has also helped Habitat for Humanity by sending an increasing number of volunteers and financial resources to the homebuilding organization’s annual Jimmy Carter Work Project in Alabama in 2003, Mexico in 2004 and Michigan in 2005.

“It is an honor for Habitat to have Willow Creek as a partner,” said Rick Beech, director of Church Relations at Habitat for Humanity International. “They are such a creative and pioneering church. This year is the first time Willow has planned a large-scale Habitat building event separate from the Jimmy Carter Work Project. Pre-framing these houses in their church parking lot accelerates the pace of building houses with families affected by the Gulf Coast hurricanes. It also dramatizes the need for housing and the impact that churches can make in meeting that need.”

The six framed houses will remain in the church’s parking lot for one week. People attending the church’s services on June 10-11 will be writing words of encouragement and signing the frames.

Since August 2005, more than 200 Habitat houses have been completed or are under construction in the Gulf coast to help low-income families affected by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. The organization has committed to building 1,000 houses in hurricane-affected areas by mid-summer of 2007.

About Willow Creek Community Church
Now in its 30th year, Willow Creek welcomes people from all backgrounds regardless of where they are on their spiritual journey. Each week, nearly 20,000 people attend weekend services, designed for those investigating Christianity. For information, visit www.willowcreek.org.

About Habitat for Humanity International
Habitat for Humanity International is a 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.