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Catholicos of Armenia builds with Habitat for Humanity in New Orleans

AMERICUS, Ga. (Oct. 17, 2007) –The leader of the Armenian Church, His Holiness Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians, rolled up his sleeves in New Orleans October 17 to help build a home in Habitat for Humanity’s Musicians’ Village.

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His Holiness visited New Orleans, a place in the hearts and minds of many in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, as a gesture of goodwill from Armenia. The Catholicos is sympathetic to the suffering caused by the hurricane because Armenia is still recovering from the devastating 1988 earthquake that left 500,000 people homeless and inspired his work with Habitat for Humanity.

The relationship between the Catholicos and Habitat for Humanity now spans across two nations. His Holiness has worked with Habitat for Humanity in his native Armenia, planting trees, painting walls and hammering nails while helping build more than 70 homes.

In April 2006, the Armenian Church and Habitat for Humanity signed an agreement of long- term cooperation. The agreement allowed for the creation of His Holiness Karekin II Work Project. His Holiness Karekin II personally spearheaded efforts to construct 37 homes across Armenia, giving witness to the ancient Armenian tradition of charity, volunteerism and social concern as part of the His Holiness Karekin II Work Project in 2007.

In September 2006, Habitat For Humanity Armenia hosted an inaugural event where more than 300 volunteers from Europe, the United States, Armenia and other countries came together to help build a 24-unit condominium building. The events of 2006 took place with the personal involvement of His Holiness Karekin II.

As Catholicos of All Armenians, His Holiness Karekin II presides over the Supreme Spiritual Council (the Armenian Church’s governing college of bishops and lay persons). He is the leader of the world’s 7 million Armenian Christians.

Here in America, the Armenian Church regularly takes part in Habitat for Humanity projects. Each year, the College Ministry program at the Armenian Church supports an Alternative Spring Break project where Armenian Christian college students use their spring breaks to build homes. Archbishop Khajag Barsamian, Primate of the Armenian Church (Eastern) helps support the project and actively encourages students to participate.

Musicians’ Village was established as a community for New Orleans’ numerous generations of musicians and other families displaced by Hurricane Katrina, many whom had lived in inadequate housing prior to the catastrophe. Conceived by New Orleans natives Harry Connick, Jr. and Branford Marsalis, Musicians’ Village is being constructed in the Upper Ninth Ward, where an eight-acre parcel of land was selected for the construction of 70 single-family homes built by volunteers, donors, sponsors and low-income families.

Since groundbreaking began in March 2006, 40 homes have been completed. Among the project’s innovative features are elder-friendly duplexes for the senior members of the community and the Ellis Marsalis Center for Music, a 150-seat performance space with state of the art lighting and sound, a recording studio, classrooms and rehearsal spaces. The facility will be available to residents of Musician’s Village as well as to students and artists citywide.

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 1976, Habitat has built more than 225,000 houses worldwide, providing simple, decent and affordable shelter for more than 1 million people. For more information, visit www.habitat.org.