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BU helps build houses

Feb. 23, 2001

Student, faculty labor to provide home for family


Staff writer

A family's wish will finally come true in March, as Baylor faculty, staff and students plan to join together to build the 61st Waco Habitat for Humanity home.

The home will be located at 1008 Church Ave. and will be built for the Gayle family of Waco.

The family was chosen by Habitat based on the family's level of need, its willingness to become partners in the Habitat program and its ability to repay the no-interest loan.

'What makes it affordable for the family is the no-interest loan,' said John Alexander, executive director for Waco's Habitat.

The homeowner will be responsible for the monthly mortgage payments and at least 300 hours of their own labor, which Habitat calls 'sweat equity.'

The monthly payments will go into a revolving fund allowing Habitat to build more houses.

Dr. Jay Losey, chairman of the faculty senate, was given Habitat information this summer.

'The provost thought getting faculty, staff and students involved in Habitat would be a good idea,' said Losey, who is also an associate English professor.

Losey said faculty senate passed a unanimous vote to work with the Baylor chapter of Habitat for Humanity.

'This is a wonderful opportunity for students, staff and faculty to work together and help a needy family,' Losey said.

Before the house can be built, Habitat must raise a total of $32,000 for the construction. Faculty and staff hope to raise $16,000 of that with the student chapter of Habitat raising the other.

'We hope out of nearly 1,700 faculty and staff members we can reach our goal,' Losey said.

The student chapter has already raised its share of the cost. Ahmed Al-Hafidh, president of Baylor's Habitat chapter said they were able to raise the money needed through various fundraising and a $5,000 grant from the Reynolds Corporation for designing a recycling program.

Losey said the students' work has inspired the faculty.

'The students' enthusiasm and commitment has given us a strong incentive to try to match their great contribution,' Losey said.

Losey said the faculty senate is trying to reach the $16,000 goal by asking the Baylor community to donate either money or manual labor.

Baylor employees received a letter asking them to contribute financially through payroll deductions or by sending a check to the payroll office.

Losey said they are asking that payroll deduction forms or checks be forwarded to the payroll office by March 2.

Volunteers will begin framing the house at 7:30 a.m. March 17. Volunteers will continue working on the house each Saturday through April 28, only taking a break for Easter weekend. The house will be dedicated on April 28.

Losey said faculty, staff and students will help frame the house, insulate, build the roof, put in doors, hang shelves and build a fence around the property.

'They will have professionals do the intricate work like plumbing and wiring,' Losey said.

The completed house will be Waco Habitat's 61st built or rehabilitated house.

The non-profit organization has built more than 80,000 houses worldwide.

Founded in 1976 by Millard Fuller of Georgia, more than 1,500 chapters have since been organized including Baylor's chapter.

Baylor's Habitat chapter has had a long history of success since its founding. The organization, which comprises more than 200 students, has been involved in the major funding of three Waco houses, and countless hours of volunteer work on many more.

'Our purpose is to empower people to help themselves,' Al-Hafidh said.

Alexander said he relies on groups like the one at Baylor for sponsorship of houses. He said he also receives sponsorships from local businesses, foundations, churches and the City of Waco.

Finding volunteers to help build the houses has usually not been a problem.

'The day we raise the walls we usually have about 40 people,' Alexander said.

'That is always the most exciting day.'

Alexander said in a typical weekend, however, they have about 25 volunteers.