Newport, Minn., Aug. 18, 2003--Cher donned a nail apron, picked up a hammer and joined nearly 100 crew members from her "Living Proof Farewell Tour" last Thursday to build a Habitat for Humanity house as part of her surprise birthday present. A banner at the worksite read, "The House that Cher Built…with a little help from her friends!"
Members of her tour group secretly began raising money in honor of her birthday, May 20, to give her a meaningful gift. They came up with the idea to build a Habitat house in Cher’s name.
"We are thrilled and thankful when people come together to give what we call a 'Gift from the Heart,' a donation in honor of someone special," said Millard Fuller, founder and president of Habitat for Humanity International. "Cher's friends can truly be proud that they gave a truly unique birthday present, the opportunity for a family to own a simple, decent home."
People involved with all aspects of the tour including the band, dancers, crew, management, promoters, travel agents, transportation, legal, sound, video, lights and set construction raised $50,000 in order to honor Cher's birthday.
The build took place in Newport, a community near Minneapolis, which is one of the destinations for Cher's farewell concert tour. The Newport house will become home to Terressa Griffith and her two sons, ages 18 and 2. Terressa is an account administrator with a local law firm and spends nearly 40 percent of her income to rent a basement. The basement is in need of repairs and a large hole in the floor presents a dangerous situation for raising her two-year-old.
"I want to provide a stable and permanent home for myself and my family," said Terressa. "It would make me very proud to own a Habitat home, knowing I helped build it and that my mortgage payments will go toward building homes for others in need."
Every year, thousands of people give a Gift From the Heart donation to Habitat for Humanity in order to honor someone. More than 17 thousand people donated an average of $92 last year. These gifts added up to $1.6 million, which were used to build simple, decent houses in the United States and around the world. An average U.S. Habitat house costs $53,309, while Habitat houses around the world cost as little as $2,500. Habitat homeowners invest "sweat equity" into their homes and pay back a no-profit, zero-interest mortgage that goes into a revolving fund to build additional houses for low-income families.
"We've had many people celebrate weddings, anniversaries, even family reunions by sponsoring a Habitat home," said Stephen Seidel, executive director of Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity. "The fact that Cher's crew chose to honor her birthday by sponsoring and helping to build a Habitat home takes this concept to a new level. We certainly hope that this is a very special birthday gift for Cher. We know that this will be a special day for a family who is in need of a decent, affordable home."
Habitat for Humanity International is an ecumenical Christian ministry dedicated to eliminating poverty housing. Founded by Millard Fuller, along with his wife, Linda, Habitat for Humanity International and its affiliates in more than 3,000 communities in 89 nations have built and sold more than 150,000 homes to partner families with no-profit, zero-interest mortgages. For more information about Habitat for Humanity International, log onto www.habitat.org .