500 AmeriCorps members build 20 homes in five days with support of corporate partners
GULFPORT, Miss. (May 25, 2007) — Habitat for Humanity International and the Corporation for National and Community Service celebrated the conclusion of Habitat’s annual AmeriCorps Build-A-Thon with closing ceremonies after a 20-home blitz build.
The build began on Sunday, May 20, with more than 500 AmeriCorps members and alumni from across the country descending upon Habitat for Humanity of the Mississippi Gulf Coast to blitz build 20 Habitat homes with Gulf Coast area families displaced by Hurricane Katrina. The build was sponsored by the Corporation for National and Community Service, the Mississippi Commission for Volunteer Service, Lowe’s, Charles Schwab, the State of Qatar, and the National Association of Realtors.
“Our AmeriCorps members and alumni have made phenomenal progress on these homes in just one week,” said David Eisner, CEO, Corporation for National and Community Service. “We are happy to have provided the labor and thank the corporate sponsors who made it all possible. Construction of these 20 homes would not have been possible without their financial support.”
The Mississippi Commission for Volunteer Service, which administers a portfolio of AmeriCorps State programs throughout Mississippi, recently announced a three-year AmeriCorps grant to Habitat for Humanity. In year one, Habitat for Humanity will receive $642,916 to establish and support a Habitat-specific program in Mississippi. This grant will fund the placement, training and support of 52 full-time AmeriCorps members to serve with Mississippi Habitat affiliates. These AmeriCorps members will serve as construction crew leaders, volunteer service assistants and family service assistants.
Lowe’s has been a longtime supporter of Habitat for Humanity and provided full funding for three of the Build-A-Thon homes. “Lowe’s believes that the impact Habitat has on families across the country cannot be overestimated, which is why we underwrite Habitat’s Women Build program as well as support other initiatives like this one,” said Larry D. Stone, chairman of Lowe’s Charitable and Educational Foundation. “Like in many communities across the country, this hurricane-ravaged area has a huge need for affordable housing.
“By supporting the AmeriCorps Build-A-Thon, Lowe’s can do our part to build houses together with Gulf Coast families in need and also help build the next generation of Habitat leaders and community volunteers.”
To date, Habitat has begun construction or completed more than 1,000 homes in its program to help low-income families throughout the Gulf Coast recovering from hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
“Housing is a priority on the coast right now and will be for many years,” said Chris Monforton, CEO, Habitat for Humanity of the Mississippi Gulf Coast. “We are excited and grateful for the hard-working AmeriCorps members and for the generous support of our corporate partners. It’s these kinds of partnerships that will help the Gulf Coast recover.”
“Realtors build communities and our job is to help all families get into homes, and especially those in the Gulf Coast who still lack permanent shelter,” said NAR President Pat V. Combs, of Grand Rapids, Mich., and vice president of Coldwell Banker-AJS-Schmidt. “I hope these houses will make a real difference in the lives of the family members and, through our partnership with Habitat for Humanity, we look forward to making the dream of homeownership come true for other families throughout the Gulf Coast area.”
The Charles Schwab Foundation contributed a $500,000 grant to support Habitat for Humanity’s hurricane-recovery efforts. Schwab has been a longtime Habitat for Humanity supporter and its employees have been active in several builds over the years.
“Rebuilding homes is essential in the Gulf Coast to revitalize the community and provide families with the opportunity to jumpstart their lives and build their confidence to fully participate in the community’s economy,” said Carrie Schwab Pomerantz, president of Charles Schwab Foundation.
Several of the Build-A-Thon homes were sponsored by the Qatar Katrina Fund, a $100 million gift from the people of Qatar. Habitat for Humanity International received a $22 million gift from the fund that will go toward building 153 houses in Louisiana, 107 houses in Mississippi and 33 houses in Alabama.
The houses constructed during the AmeriCorps Build-A-Thon will increase the total number of Habitat homes built in Harrison and Jackson counties in Mississippi to more than 110 houses since the 2005 storm.
This Build-A-Thon marks 13 years of AmeriCorps and Habitat for Humanity working together to build affordable houses and eliminate substandard housing. Since 1994, Habitat for Humanity AmeriCorps members have performed more than 5 million hours of service and engaged hundreds of thousands of community volunteers to build more than 6,500 houses.
AmeriCorps engages 75,000 Americans each year in intensive service to meet our country’s critical needs in education, public safety, health and the environment. AmeriCorps members tutor and mentor youth, care for the elderly, improve health services, build affordable housing, help communities respond to disasters, and mobilize and manage other volunteers. For more information, visit www.americorps.gov .
About the Corporation for National and Community Service
The Corporation for National and Community Service improves lives, strengthens communities, and fosters civic engagement through service and volunteering. Each year, the corporation provides opportunities for more than 2 million Americans of all ages and backgrounds to serve their communities and country through Senior Corps, AmeriCorps, and Learn and Serve America. More than 35,000 national service participants have provided more than 2 million hours of service in the Gulf Coast in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, gutting thousands of homes, providing food and shelter, helping reopen schools, and playing a key role in supervising the more than 550,000 volunteers who have served in the Gulf. For more information, visit http://www.nationalservice.gov .
About the Mississippi Commission for Volunteer Service
The Mississippi Commission for Volunteer Service (MCVS), Mississippi’s state office of volunteerism, engages and supports Mississippians of all ages and backgrounds in service to their communities. MCVS administers AmeriCorps*State programs in Mississippi, supporting 12 AmeriCorps programs with more than 650 individuals serving in communities throughout the state addressing numerous needs including education; disaster relief; building or renovating affordable housing; and disability awareness, inclusion and transitioning of individuals with disabilities back into the community. MCVS also works closely with the state office of the Corporation for National and Community Service in an AmeriCorps*VISTA Disaster Preparedness and Response project and in assisting in the startup of volunteer centers throughout the state.
For more information on the Mississippi Commission for Volunteer Service, call (601) 432-6779 or (888) 353-1793 (toll free) or visit www.MCVS.org .
Lowe’s is a proud supporter of Habitat for Humanity International, American Red Cross, United Way of America, and the Home Safety Council, in addition to numerous nonprofit organizations and programs that help communities across the country. In 2006, the Lowe’s Charitable and Educational Foundation awarded $15 million to diverse organizations across the United States. Lowe’s also encourages volunteerism through the Lowe’s Heroes program, a company-wide employee volunteer initiative. Lowe’s is a FORTUNE® 50 company with fiscal year 2006 sales of $46.9 billion and has more than 1,400 stores in 49 states. For more information, visit Lowes.com/community .
About the National Association of Realtors
The National Association of Realtors®, “The Voice for Real Estate,” is America’s largest trade association, representing more than 1.3 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.
About Charles Schwab
The Charles Schwab Corporation (nasdaq: SCHW) is a leading provider of financial services, with more than 300 offices and 6.8 million client brokerage accounts, 584,000 corporate retirement plan participants, 150,000 banking accounts and $1.3 trillion in client assets. Through its operating subsidiaries, the company provides a full range of securities brokerage, banking, money management and financial advisory services to individual investors and independent investment advisors.
Funded by the Charles Schwab Corporation, Charles Schwab Foundation is committed to giving back to the community by supporting employee-selected causes and fostering financial literacy through funding, involvement and expertise.
About the Qatar Katrina Fund
This project received a generous grant from the Qatar Katrina Fund, a $100 million gift from the people of Qatar. The Qatar Katrina Fund was announced in September 2005 by His Highness Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani, amir of the state of Qatar. Under the direction of H.E. Nasser Bin Hamad M. Al-Khalifa, ambassador of the state of Qatar to the United States, the fund has now committed the entire $100 million directly to healthcare, education and housing projects throughout Gulf Coast region.
About Habitat for Humanity Mississippi Gulf Coast
In January of 2007, Harrison County HFH and HFH of Jackson County merged organizations to form HFH of the Mississippi Gulf Coast (HFHMGC), serving all of Harrison and Jackson counties. HFHMGC has begun construction on more than 85 homes since its merger and is committed to serving families in need. To learn how you can help, visit www.hfhmgc.org .
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 Americus, Ga., in 1976, Habitat has built more than 225,000 houses in nearly 100 countries, providing simple, decent and affordable shelter for more than 1 million people. For more information, visit www.habitat.org .