INDIANAPOLIS (July 30, 2007) ─ Last November, Pensacola, Fla., opened its doors to the NCAA Division II Fall Championships Festival with more than 800 student-athletes competing for six national championships. Approximately 400 of those student-athletes, coaches and administrators returned the favor to the hurricane-affected city by volunteering to help construct six new homes with local residents. They did this as part of the NCAA Home Team, a partnership between the NCAA and Habitat for Humanity International. Another 100 volunteers from local Division II institution University of West Florida also contributed to the build.
Over a three-day period during the festival, volunteers worked to complete the exteriors for three homes on their slab foundations at the intersection of Idlewood Drive and Larkfield Circle and framed another three homes at Brosnaham Park, one of the championship venues. Those house frames were later moved to their permanent locations for completion.
In the past eight months since the conclusion of the festival, the Pensacola Habitat for Humanity staff and volunteers worked with area high school volunteers and Habitat partner families to complete the homes. Now living in the completed homes, the six families could not be more pleased.
“My home means everything to me,” said Latisha Murphy, a single mother and new homeowner. “I never thought my son and I would have a permanent place to call home, but now we have a special place that is our own.”
As sponsor of the homes, the NCAA was invited to participate in the July 30 dedication as a tribute to the student-athletes who played such a vital role in the construction.
“The NCAA was pleased to take part in the building of these six homes and honored to be part of the dedication. It is important for student-athletes to embrace community service and the role they play in contributing to society. This partnership allows us to give back to a community that has embraced us,” said Myles Brand, president of the NCAA.
Throughout the first two years of the NCAA Home Team partnership, more than 1,000 student-athletes and other volunteers have built nearly 25 homes for families to aid the rebuilding efforts in the Gulf Coast, as well as help meet housing needs in other areas of the country. One year remains in the partnership.
“While most hurricane recovery has been focused on the Mississippi and Louisiana Gulf Coast region affected by the 2005 storms, Pensacola suffered three hurricanes from 2004 to 2005, and we are still working our way back from that devastation,” explained Betty Salter, executive director of Pensacola Habitat for Humanity. “The NCAA has the ability to reach so many young people and to get them to understand the need for their volunteer efforts and the importance of volunteering in general. Beyond the number of homes constructed, the positive example set by the NCAA is one of the greatest aspects of this partnership,” she said.
Division II has been a leading force in the NCAA Home Team partnership, giving the lead gift of $1 million in 2005. In total, the NCAA has given $2.5 million for the NCAA/Habitat for Humanity builds. To date, the build at the Division II Fall Championships Festival is the largest in terms of student-athlete participation and the number of homes being constructed at one time.
“The Division II response to the hurricanes’ aftermath through Habitat for Humanity is reflective of our membership’s engagement and service to the communities we serve,” said Charles Ambrose, president of Pfeiffer University, and chair of the Division II Presidents Council. “The efforts during the Division II Fall Championships Festival last November demonstrated Division II’s desire to take an active part in building community.”
“Through its Home Team partnership, the NCAA ─ its staff, its member schools, its leadership, its student-athletes across the U.S. ─ has clearly declared an intolerance of substandard housing,” said Jonathan Reckford, chief executive officer of Habitat for Humanity International. “And they’ve done so not only through the dollars that make our work possible, but by mobilizing volunteers who engage their hands and hearts in Habitat’s life-changing mission.”
As part of the dedication, the NCAA will provide the homeowners with a gift basket including an NCAA blanket, mini basketball, books and other items. These gifts are in addition to the traditional Habitat for Humanity gifts: a tool kit, a homeowner’s manual and a Bible.
One of the unique features of the Habitat for Humanity program is homeowners must also apply “sweat equity” to the construction of their houses, meaning they all physically contribute to the completion of their homes.
“The most special part about my home is the positive example I am setting for my daughter,” said new homeowner Regina Jones. “I’m showing her that she too can own something one day as long as she works hard for it.”
About the NCAA
The NCAA is a membership-led nonprofit association of colleges and universities committed to supporting academic and athletic opportunities for more than 380,000 student-athletes at more than 1,200 member colleges and universities. Each year, more than 54,000 student-athletes compete in NCAA championships in Divisions I, II and III sports. Visit www.ncaa.org  and www.ncaasports.com  for more details about the association, its goals and members, and corporate partnerships that help support programs for student-athletes. The NCAA is proud to have the following elite companies as official Corporate Champions — AT&T, Coca-Cola and Pontiac — and the following elite companies as official Corporate Partners — DiGiorno, Enterprise, The Hartford, Lowe’s and State Farm.
About Pensacola Habitat for Humanity
Pensacola Habitat for Humanity has been in existence for 26 years and serves Escambia and Santa Rosa counties. The affiliate has completed more than 533 homes and removed more than 2,200 people from unsafe and unaffordable housing. Pensacola Habitat for Humanity has consistently ranked as one of the top 10 most productive Habitat for Humanity affiliates out of the 1,700 affiliates across the nation. For more information, visit www.pensacolahabitat.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 1976, Habitat has built more than 225,000 houses worldwide, providing simple, decent and affordable shelter for more than 1 million people. For more information, visit www.habitat.org .