04/23/07 — Mount Olive Habitat house dedicated

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Mount Olive Habitat house dedicated

By Bonnie Edwards
Published in News on April 23, 2007 1:45 PM

MOUNT OLIVE -- It was 20 degrees outside Maria Diaz Diaz and Gregorio Solis Vega's unheated one-bedroom apartment when they met with a Habitat for Humanity selection committee last winter.

Last week, the couple from Costa Rica turned the key on a home of their own in Mount Olive.

Their East Main Street house is next door to another built by Habitat for Humanity and community volunteers from the Partners for Habitat of Mount Olive, a group formed from churches that belong to the Mount Olive Ministerial Association and the Interdenominational Min-isterial Alliance of Mount Olive.

The Rev. Steve Wicks, pastor of Mount Olive Presbyterian Church, said the group plans to start soon on the construction of two more houses on Hillsborough Street. He said the idea for the church-based partnership came at a meeting of the Mount Olive Board of Commissioners four years ago. He gave the invocation that night and knew Bill Edgerton, the local habitat affiliate's founder and president, would be there. Rather than leaving after the invocation like he usually does, he stayed to hear what Edgerton had to say.

Mount Olive needs affordable, energy-efficient housing for people of low to moderate income, Edgerton said.

"It took that seed two years to come to fruition," Wicks said.

Contributions and grants flowed in, and so did the volunteers showing up to work at the first two houses.

Now the group is raising $25,000 among the churches. Habitat International will match that amount.

"Encourage your church to make a contribution of whatever size," he said. "We're grateful for God making a way for us to build these two houses."

Gregorio, 45, thanked his priest, Father Jim Garnot, for encouraging him to apply for one of the Habitat houses. And with the priest translating for him, he thanked the churches, the college and all the organizations that took part in the effort.

"And to all the people, I give thanks," he added before he and his wife accompanied Father Garnot inside to bless their new home.

Maria, 33, and Gregorio will have more than just a new house to celebrate.

After trying for six years, the couple now have learned that Maria is 11 weeks pregnant.