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Habitat for Humanity homeowner and volunteer receives President’s Volunteer Service Award

HANCOCK COUNTY, Mississippi (December 7, 2009) – Bay-Waveland Area Habitat for Humanity homeowner and volunteer Russell Abbrecht has been awarded the President’s Volunteer Service Award.

Abbrecht received the award at a recognition ceremony held at the Knight Non-Profit Center in Gulfport, Mississippi, last week. The recognition was sponsored by United Way of Southern Mississippi.

Abbrecht was among 19 people selected for special recognition for their volunteer efforts in Southern Mississippi. Like many others in Hancock County, Abbrecht suffered great loss when Hurricane Katrina ravaged Hancock County in 2005. That same year, Abbrecht suffered a stroke that left him paralyzed on his left side. When he applied for a Habitat house, he was living alone and unable to work.

When Habitat partners with an individual or family, they are required to invest “sweat equity.” Abbrecht helped with Habitat’s office work, and when his sweat equity was satisfied, he moved into his new Habitat house in December 2007.

It is 2009, and Abbrecht continues to volunteer for Habitat by answering office phones two days a week. Although he satisfied his sweat equity requirement two years ago, he continues to volunteer. Abbrecht is eager to help Habitat. “The community has given me so much, this is just my way of giving back,” says Abbrecht.

“Volunteers are absolutely vital to Habitat’s work in our community, and we are delighted when their efforts are recognized by others,” said Wendy McDonald, executive director of Habitat for Humanity Bay-Waveland Area. “Russell stands out as an example to us all,” she added. “We’re proud to know him as homeowner, volunteer and friend.”

About Bay-Waveland Area Habitat for Humanity
Habitat for Humanity began its work in Hancock County shortly after the hurricanes of 2005. In January 2008, Habitat for Humanity Bay-Waveland Area was established as an independent affiliate. Since 2006, HFH Bay-Waveland Area has built nearly 130 houses in Hancock County. Habitat does not give homes away. Homeowners are selected based upon a variety of factors, including their ability to repay a low-cost, no interest loan and willingness to invest “sweat equity,” or time spent helping to build their house and the houses of others. A Christian organization, HFH Bay-Waveland Area partners with all people who share in the common dream to eliminate poverty housing and restore hopes, lives and dreams in the Gulf Coast.

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 350,000 houses worldwide, providing simple, decent and affordable shelter for more than 1.75 million people. For more information, visit