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Habitat for Humanity to raise walls on 300,000th and 300,001st houses

The milestone houses will be built in Naples, Fla., and Zacapa, Guatemala

ATLANTA and NAPLES, Fla. (Sept. 12, 2008) – Habitat for Humanity will mark a major milestone Nov. 13–14, when construction begins on the homebuilding ministry’s 300,000th house in Naples, Fla., and 300,001st house in Zacapa, Guatemala. Habitat volunteers and homeowners will raise the walls as part of the builds hosted by Habitat for Humanity of Collier County and Guatemala Habitat for Humanity.

The 300,000th house represents a decade of major growth for Habitat for Humanity, which was founded in 1976. In 2000, Habitat’s 100,000th house was built in New York City and 100,001st house in Plains, Ga. Five years later, Habitat dedicated its 200,000th home in Knoxville, Tenn.; and 200,001st house in Kanyakumari, India.

“It’s truly an extraordinary accomplishment to reach the 300,000th house milestone, and countless partners have played a vital role in that,” said Jonathan Reckford, CEO, Habitat for Humanity International. “Throughout this journey, so many lives have been changed – from the families who now live in decent homes to the volunteers whose hard work and compassion have helped build them. However, as much as we have to celebrate, we are equally humbled by the extent of the housing problem worldwide. We realize we have so much more to do, and we’ll continue building upon the momentum that each of these 300,000 homes has helped generate.”

The 300,000th house will be built in remembrance of Mary Ann Durso, former executive director of Habitat for Humanity of Collier County, who died in May 2008. Mrs. Durso spent 15 years working, alongside her husband, Dr. Sam Durso, as a full-time volunteer to build the largest annual producing Habitat for Humanity affiliate in the United States. Under the leadership of the Dursos, Habitat of Collier County has helped provide more than 5,000 people with safe, decent and affordable shelter.

“Building this house on Mary Ann’s legacy of passionate advocacy for the working poor provides tremendous momentum for all those involved in Habitat,” said Dr. Durso, Executive Director of Collier County Habitat for Humanity. “With all of our success in Collier County, there still remains a tremendous and critical need. We at Habitat are committed to work until that day when there is no child who sleeps on a cold floor, whose whole family lives in one room, who suffers from terrible asthma because their trailer is covered with mold, or who goes without food to pay the rent.”

Only one day after construction begins in Naples, volunteers will break ground on Habitat’s 300,001st house in Zacapa, Guatemala. Zacapa is a region that suffers one of the lowest levels of community and social development in Guatemala, and therefore the most in need of adequate housing. A total of 1,236 Habitat houses have been built in the region, reaching some 7,500 people.

“It’s a tremendous pleasure for Habitat Guatemala to be part of this celebration,” said Luis Samayoa, National Director of HFH Guatemala. “It is not only an opportunity for us to show our commitment to the families in Guatemala and across the world in need of adequate housing, but also proof that by working together we can make a sincere difference in each other’s lives.”

Construction of the house in Guatemala is being made possible by a contribution from Habitat of Collier County as part of Habitat for Humanity’s annual tithe program to help build houses around the world. Habitat Collier County has maintained a long-standing relationship with Habitat Guatemala since September 2004, when they first dedicated their yearly tithe towards Guatemala’s building efforts. To date, Habitat Collier County has financed the construction of more than 100 homes in Guatemala, and this year alone will support the construction of 32 houses.

Habitat is a worldwide movement that has a presence in nearly 90 countries, including all 50 states in the United States, the District of Columbia, Guam and Puerto Rico. On average, Habitat for Humanity serves a low-income family somewhere around the world every 10 minutes through new house construction, major house rehabilitation projects and with house repairs. In 2007, Habitat served a record 49,000 families in need.

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 nearly 300,000 houses worldwide, providing simple, decent and affordable shelter for more than 1.5 million people. For more information, visit

About Habitat for Humanity of Collier County
Habitat for Humanity of Collier County is one of the oldest and largest-producing Habitat affiliates in the nation. The local organization has built more than 1,100 homes in its 30-year history and is a leading provider of affordable, owner occupied residences in Collier County. For more information, please visit and find out how you can donate or volunteer today.

About Guatemala Habitat for Humanity
Habitat for Humanity Guatemala was the first national program in the Latin America/Caribbean region, and has built more than 28,000 homes since its inception in 1979. Roughly one Habitat home is built in Guatemala every three hours, and the local organization accounts for some 50 percent of all Habitat homes built in the region. Please visit to learn more about how you can become involved.