Habitat Helper

Volunteer Ralph Bower of New Smyrna Beach paints a house under construction in Edgewater for the Southeast Volusia Habitat for Humanity on Friday, Feb. 12.

With 139 homes built in the Edgewater, New Smyrna Beach and Oak Hill communities, Southeast Volusia Habitat for Humanity has racked up a lot of good will.

Along with those homes, its tithes to Habitat for Humanity International also have added up.

With giving $500,000 over the years, it has qualified for the Malachi 3:10 Award.

The international non-profit was founded in 1976 and now works in local communities across all 50 states in the U.S. and in about 70 countries. The Southeast Volusia chamber was created in 1986.

Habitat builds strength, stability, and self-reliance in partnership with families in need of decent and affordable housing. Habitat homeowners help build their own homes alongside volunteers and pay an affordable mortgage.

The award is based on the Biblical quote from the Book of Malachi: “Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need.” (English Standard Versino).

Habitat is a faith-based organization, said newly hired SEVHFH Executive Director Mark Billings. “So, it’s about giving back and receiving in return way more than what you give. We feel that way. All the items that we sell here, the money goes to building affordable housing.”

Mr Billings was honored to get the SEVHFH job, he said.

“We have a very engaged board. Everyone is passionate about being a servant leader and giving back. We are delighted to be part of this community. We want to give back to the community and certainly embrace having members of our community either volunteer, donate, shop here and help us improve the housing situation for those in need in our community. We are committed to breaking the cycle of poverty.”

The Habitat chapter has several houses under way. Approved future homeowners must agree to volunteer in some capacity themselves (“sweat equity’) throughout the building process.

Board members share Mr. Billing’s enthusiasm as all interviewed had nothing but accolades for the work being done both at SEVHFH and Habitat for Humanity International.

Also, the award shows the years of commitment the chapter has to the Habitat mission.

“We don’t need to be recognized, but it is nice to be recognized,” said Regis Sloan, chairwoman of the SEVHFH board. “It’s a wonderful experience to be involved with the board and the wonderful employees and volunteers who make Habitat work. We’re in the business of helping people have adequate housing. By working with our partner families, we achieve it in great part because if the ReStore and The Barn.”

She credited recently retired executive director Rosemary Walker for her contributions to the award.

Board member Dale Williams stated. “The reason that I became involved with Habitat initially was it impressed me that it was a hand up instead of a handout and the partner families were able to work with us to improve their futures. The primary reason I’m involved with Habitat as both as a supporter and now a board member for the second time is to improve the lives of the children who end up living in the homes we build. The reason I work for Habitat is to improve the lives of the next generation.”

Working for Habitat is unique, said Tanya Webb, manager of the ReStore “It’s like no other job I ever had. I get real emotional talking about it. Growing up poor, you know what having a house is all about. When I see all these single moms and dads that are struggling, I can’t tell you the joy it puts in my heart to know that every single thing (sold at the store) could be a box of nails. This is where the houses are built from. They’re giving to us; we’re giving right back to the community. It’s a great place for people to come and shop.”

The ReStore and, nearby, The Barn, have new and gently used clothes, shoes, furniture, appliances, books, toys, jewelry, accessories, home furnishings, building materials and more available at a fraction of the retail price.

The Southeast Volusia chapter has a direct connection to some countries, including Guatemala, Northern Argentina, Kenja and Ethiopia, according to Coralie Gilson, outreach and volunteer program manager. “This might include building homes or water systems, for example.”

She stressed volunteers are always needed whether working in the store, repairing existing homes or building new homes. People must apply for assistance or for a home by filling out a simple application. Donations whether financial or material are always needed as well, including items for the store. Homes are not just built for families, but seniors or persons unable to work may qualify for smaller homes.

For more information, visit habitatsev.org, call (386) 428-5010 or email info@habitatsev.org. The ReStore at 722 S. Dixie Freeway in Edgewater is open 10 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. Monday to Saturday.

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