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Habitat for Humanity raises walls on 300,000th house

The milestone house marks a decade of major growth for Habitat

NAPLES, Fla. (Nov. 13, 2008) — Habitat for Humanity celebrates a major milestone today as construction begins on the homebuilding organization’s 300,000th house since it was founded in 1976. Habitat volunteers and homeowners are raising the walls of the house as part of the build hosted by Habitat for Humanity of Collier County.

“It’s truly an extraordinary accomplishment to reach the 300,000th house milestone,” 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.”

Medelsonne and Rose Garraux will be the homeowners of Habitat’s 300,000th house. Natives of Haiti, the Garrauxes were granted asylum in the United States following violence in their native country. The couple moved to Naples with their young son in 2004 and has since added two daughters to the family. The family of five has been living in a two-bedroom apartment that costs about 40 percent of the family’s income. Their housing costs will be reduced by nearly a third when they move into their new Habitat home.

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. More than 1,200 Habitat houses have been built in the region, helping some 7,500 people.

“It’s a tremendous pleasure for Habitat Guatemala to be part of this celebration,” said Luis Samayoa, national director of Habitat 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 proves that by working together, we can make a sincere difference in each other’s lives.”

Construction of the house in Guatemala is made possible by a contribution by Habitat of Collier County as part of Habitat for Humanity’s annual tithe program to help build houses around the world. 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’s 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.

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 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.