06/24/12 — Walk raises money for building homes for Habitat for Humanity

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Walk raises money for building homes for Habitat for Humanity

By Kelly Corbett
Published in News on June 24, 2012 1:50 AM

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Participants in the third annual Hike for Humanity help to raise money for Habitat for Humanity of Goldsboro-Wayne during a walk at Stoney Creek Park on Saturday. Attendees enjoyed music, games and food as they celebrated the organization's 10th anniversary.

Saturday's Hike for Humanity, sponsored by Habitat for Humanity of Goldsboro-Wayne, has evolved into a family-oriented event where the community can have fun while learning more about the organization.

The third annual hike, held Saturday at Stoney Creek Park, also served as a time to recognize the organization's 10th anniversary.

"We use this as the biggest public awareness event and the biggest fundraising event," said Executive Director Ti'eshia Moore. "I love that it's something that our staff actually brings our families to, too."

The hikers all walked a minimum of four laps around the front of the park on the balloon-marked trail.

Co-workers Deborah Thorn and Becky Thigpen, with the department of Social Services, signed up for the hike in advance.

"Having a place of your own to live is important for a lot of people," Mrs. Thigpen said as the two made their way around the walking course.

The organization has come a long way in a decade.

Habitat volunteers are currently working on building house No. 50 as the organization is expanding to be able to work on 10 instead of only five houses at one time.

"We have a lot of overlapping projects," Mrs. Moore said. "We have eight people on our waiting list, so we're trying to build with a little more fervency."

Board president Bill Royall said in order to increase the number of houses built each year, the volunteer base also needs to grow.

Royall said the thing he enjoys most about the event is getting to meet the volunteers who donate their time and energy.

Nicholas Richardson, 17, has volunteered more than 330 hours since October 2010.

"Well, it started out as something my parents wanted me to do, to build a better work ethic," he said.

Since then, Richardson said it just turned into something he wanted to do to give back to the community.

"It feels good to help total strangers. It's a good feeling," said the Charles B. Aycock High senior.

Annually, Habitat for Humanity has about 2,500 volunteers rotating in and out of projects, with only one full-time and one part-time employee assigned to the building projects.

Mrs. Moore said it is important to the staff and board members to get involved in the building projects when they can.

"We will shut down work and volunteer," she said.

A house usually takes about four to six months to build, and costs about $69,000, she said. But the value of the house is closer to $130,000 so it does not bring down the value of other houses in the neighborhood where it is built, Mrs. Moore said.

The owners of the houses, who often come from substandard housing, usually receive a zero percent interest loan and a mortgage payment of about $400 per month.

Three-bedroom houses around 1,200 square feet are the standard, but the organization has also built houses with more bedrooms for larger families.

"Our goal is for the houses to become part of the normal community," Mrs. Moore said.

Edwin Ortiz, a Goldsboro resident of eight years, was able to move into his new Habitat house in September 2011.

"My mother and aunt have a house through Habitat," he said, adding that he has now been a volunteer himself for about six years.

And he also has other family members and friends who volunteer with the organization who encouraged him to apply. He applied for the house in 2009. After he was able to get the money together for the security deposit and pass a credit check, he said the house building process was quick.

All of the home owners complete 350 sweat equity hours either working on their own home, working on another home or working in the ReStore.

Organizers said they hoped to raise $20,000.

By Saturday morning, the organization had already raised almost half of the money in sponsorships alone.

All of the donor dollars will go directly toward the Habitat houses so that the only costs incurred are the T-shirts handed out to volunteers and participants, which were funded by registration fees. All of the entertainment, including music, snacks and games were donated.

All of the money donated to Habitat for Humanity of Goldsboro-Wayne stays in Wayne County. For more information, visit habitatgoldsboro.com.