A major effort is being announced to repair many homes in Lauderdale County. Earlier this year the Habitat for Humanity office in Meridian joined a national effort to provide minor home repairs for locals who are elderly, disabled and veterans. Since January more than 100 homeowners have inquired about the program. With 36 currently eligible the agency is kicking off a major fund-raising effort.
"We probably need $200,000 because the limits for the loan amounts are $5,000 each; it doesn't have to be quite that much, but it can be up to that amount, and at 36 families that we are looking at that's quite a bit,"
says local Habitat for Humanity Board president, Derek Glicco.
To raise funds the agency is reaching out to youth who are 13 to college age. They're being asked to form 'Hands 4 Habitat' teams. Each team must have at least ten members, and each member is required to raise $100. Aside from helping with home repairs, the teens will get to attend a concert in June by the christian rock band, Kutless.
The initiative that the Habitat for Humanity office in Meridian is raising money for is called, 'A Brush With Kindness.' Last year a handful of houses in Lauderdale County were repaired as part of the effort. However, this year that number is expected to significantly increase.
January of this year is when Newscenter 11 first interviewed Lauderdale County Habitat for Humanity Executive Director, Fonda Rush about the 'Brush With Kindness' initiative.
"And the phone calls started just one after another, and it was close to between January and February and part of March that over 100 phone calls came in," says Rush.
So far, 36 homeowners who turned in required information have qualified for the assistance. Once Habitat for Humanity is able to provide needed repairs to those homes, officials with Multi-County Community Service Agency say they will be able to help make more homes in the area energy efficient.
"A lot of those houses that we come across, that have been referred to us, the houses are not eligible for the weatherization program because they may need a new roof; they may need some other major repairs, and under our weatherization program unfortunately we do not have the funding to do major repairs. This will enable us to serve some of our elderly population that are in dire need of assistance, and that maybe have been waiting for assistance for several years," says MCCSA Housing Director, Marci Ann Reynolds.
Homeowners who qualify for assistance through the 'A Brush With Kindness' initiative have to get involved in the process by either doing some of the work themselves or having one of their loves doing it for them. In order to help the 36 homeowners who have already qualified for assistance, Habitat for Humanity officials say they need to raise at least $200,000.
"I'm always optimistic about everything that we do, but we do need community support," says Rush.
Since being established three years ago nationally, 65% of the homeowners who have benefited from the 'A Brush with Kindness,' initiative have been senior citizens. For more information on how you can apply for this help, form a 'Hands 4 Habitat' team, or donate in general to the local Habitat for Humanity office call (601) 485-4992.