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Rotarians learn about Habitat for Humanity

At the Rotary Club of Ennis’ luncheon at the Ennis Country Club yesterday the work of Ellis County Habitat for Humanity was the subject of a program delivered by a spokesperson for that organization.
The featured speaker was Mary Lou Shipley, a Waxahachie-based attorney and a member of the board of directors for the local office of Habitat for Humanity.
“I’m not so good at hammering and sawing but I’m a lawyer so I can talk!” Shipley told the audience of her contribution to the non-profit, ecumenical Christian housing ministry incorporated in Ellis County in 2001. Shipley said she’s been involved with the outreach project for 4 years.
There have been six houses constructed so far in the county –– four of them in Waxahachie, one in Midlothian and one in Ennis, Shipley explained, adding that the concentration on Waxahachie isn’t intentional.
“We have built mostly in Waxahachie, not because of bias or prejudice but because the city has given us a block for the project,” Shipley said.
“We would be happy to do the same work in Ennis.”
A problem, she admitted, was in being able to purchase lots in Ennis that fall within their budget of $8,000.
“We need lots but we have just not been able to acquire any for that amount from the city,” she said, qualifying that the good news is that a private individual in Ennis has agreed to fund the building of two homes.
The two to three bedroom houses Habitat for Humanity constructs, Shipley outlined, are from 1,000 to 1,400 square feet.
“They are nice, well-designed houses, not elaborate but solid,” she said.
“And this is not a giveaway project. A lot is required of prospective homeowners, like an extensive application and interview process, a cash down payment of $500 and what we call ‘sweat equity,’ in which buyers must complete a minimum of 250 hours of service on their homes.”
A family selection committee visits with candidates and then makes their recommendations to the board of directors, Shipley pointed out.
“After that, chosen homebuyers become partners with Habitat, and an advocate is assigned to them to prepare them for ownership,” she continued.
“Advocates help partners understand budget and finance issues as well as property maintenance. And there’s a minimum of one year before accepted partners move into their homes.”
The volunteerism inherent in the project is what Shipley said she was most proud of.
“We are eager for businesses and other groups to join in the construction,” she said, informing Rotarians that local companies like Elk have assisted, providing roofing materials.
“Elk also used the experience as a training session for their sales staff,” Shipley added.
Volunteers range from church groups to misdemeanor probationers to the physically challenged who help in the sign-in process at job sites, make phone calls and send emails.
“We are also very grateful to a number of retired men, many from Ennis, who come out and help direct our volunteer corps,” Shipley said.
For more information on volunteering with or making donations to Ellis County Habitat for Humanity readers can call 972-937-2797, email to info@ellishabitat.org or visit the group’s website at www.ellishabitat.org.

Randy Bryan Bigham can be reached at randy@ennisdailynews. com

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Posted by on Aug 29 2007. Filed under News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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