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Women Build celebrates World Habitat Day

By Tracie Troha

HFHI’s Women Build staff joined Macon Area Habitat’s World Habitat Day event to help dedicate the homes of two families and spread the word about  Women Build.

The event, held at Southside Community Church in Macon, Ga., celebrated the completion of the affiliate’s 83rd and 84th homes, both of which were constructed during National Women Build Week last May.

Jim Mercer, development director for Macon Area Habitat, said the affiliate received an overwhelming amount of support from local businesses and volunteers during the build week, with more than 50 volunteers at the build sites each day.

“They all came out, worked hard and had a great time,” Mercer said.

This was evident Monday in the sanctuary of the church, which was filled with volunteers and donors who helped build the homes of Judy McCallister and Sheneka Jackson, two single mothers who will soon be moving into the Lynmore Estates neighborhood.

New Habitat homeowners Judy McCallister and Shaneka Jackson are presented with a Bible and the keys to their new homes by Steve Matheny and Derek Culp from Macon Area Habitat for Humanity.

At the time she applied to Habitat, McCallister had been living in the same apartment complex for 35 years. After adopting 6-year-old Matthew, McCallister wanted to give her son his own room and a safe place to ride his bike.

Jackson, the mother of 17-year-old Charquez Jackson and 13-year-old Charles Williams, was encouraged to apply for Habitat by her mother, who is also a Habitat homeowner. Jackson, a longtime renter, wanted to provide a stable home for her family.

Some people brought gifts such as tool kits and vacuum cleaners for McCallister and Jackson, while others congratulated the homeowners and expressed their heartfelt excitement at having the opportunity to celebrate with them.

“I loved volunteering and working with Macon Area Habitat. I want to keep working with them,” said Cyndi Chilies, a human resources manager for a Lowe’s store in the neighboring town of Warner Robins.

The comments and show of support pleased Dena Jackson, Women Build’s national events planner, who was one of the speakers at the event.

Jackson thanked the volunteers and donors and reminded them that they were taking part in a worldwide effort to call attention to the need for better shelter.

“We are working together as one big community to build homes, improve lives and spread the word that affordable, adequate housing should be a priority,” Jackson said.

After the dedication ceremony, Jackson and Meredith Nelson, an AmeriCorps community outreach coordinator, spoke to the attendees about ways to become involved in Women Build, and Jackson was interviewed by local television news reporters.

By the time the celebration was over, several people had pledged their continued support for Habitat, and two new homeowners were ready to move into the neighborhood.

 Tracie Troha is a HFHI writer/editor based in Americus, Ga.