Baylor Breaks Ground on Habitat House Project

March 19, 2001

by LoAna Lopez

Baylor University's Habitat for Humanity House building project officially began Friday, March 16, when students, faculty and staff joined with Baylor President Robert B. Sloan Jr. and representatives from Waco Habitat for Humanity in a ceremonial groundbreaking at the building site, 1008 Church Ave. in Waco.

Construction on the home will begin Saturday, March 24, with a completion date and house dedication set for Saturday, April 28.

At that time, Waco residents Eddie Gayle, his wife, Anja, and their 2-year-old daughter, Seraphina, will move into what will be Waco's 61st Habitat House. Anja Gayle also is expecting the couple's second child in September.

"This is a beautiful occasion for me because this will be the first home that I have ever owned," said Gayle, who returned to Waco with his family last year after living in Europe for more than 30 years.

Supported in part by Baylor's Habitat for Humanity chapter - the first collegiate chapter chartered in the United States - the $32,000 project is being funded by contributions from students, faculty and staff.

Faith in Action

Sloan said the Baylor and Habitat partnership allows the campus community to put into action its mission of service to others.

"Our students have already raised their half of the project's cost," Sloan said. "This is a project that involves all of us at Baylor. We're excited about working together."

Other participants in Friday's groundbreaking included Ahmed Al-Hafidh, a junior political science/speech communication major from Hurst and student president of the Baylor Habitat chapter; John Alexander, executive director of Waco Habitat for Humanity; Howard Williams, Baylor's director of church relations and president of the Waco Habitat board of directors; Dr. Jay Losey, chair of the Faculty Senate; Rona Stefka, chair of special projects for Staff Council; and the Gayles.

"I've seen Habitat work in the lives of so many, and a lot of our best volunteers come from Baylor," said Alexander, who noted that Baylor students, along with the Gayles and other volunteers, helped with the construction of Waco's 60th Habitat House completed earlier this month for new homeowner Loyce Manigo.

"That's one of the wonderful things about Habitat for Humanity...the partnership between families, faith groups, businesses and communities to make decent shelter a matter of conscience and action," Sloan said. "In a matter of weeks, we all will celebrate with the Gayles as we dedicate their beautiful new home."

Expressing Thanks

Eddie Gayle remembers growing up in Waco and being asked to participate in missions projects by Baylor students who went door to door in local neighborhoods. "I grew up in the community knowing Baylor and now we will have the chance to get to know you more," he said.

Al-Hafidh expressed gratitude to the Baylor family for their joint efforts to make home owning a reality for the Gayles. "I also want to thank the Gayles for letting us into their lives," he said.

Chartered in 1987, Baylor Habitat for Humanity was the first collegiate campus chapter. About 250 students are involved with the organization today, said Al-Hafidh.

Headquartered in Americus, Ga., Habitat was founded in 1976 by Georgia attorney Millard Fuller as a non-profit, ecumenical Christian ministry that makes affordable housing possible for people in need. Through volunteer labor and tax-deductible donations of money and materials, Habitat builds and rehabilitates simple, decent houses with the help of the homeowner (partner) families. Habitat houses are sold to partner families at no profit and financed with affordable, no-interest loans. The homeowners' monthly mortgage payments go into a revolving Fund for Humanity that is used to build more houses.

In addition to a down payment and the monthly mortgage payments, each homeowner family invests hundreds of hours of their own labor - or "sweat equity" - into the building of their house and the houses of others.

For more information about the Baylor Habitat House building project, contact Al-Hafidh at 755-6593, Losey at 710-4896 or Stefka at 710-4881.

For more information about Waco Habitat for Humanity, visit their web site at . The Baylor chapter's web site can be found at .

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