Habitat for Humanity gets new name for new year, expands to include Preston, Marion counties

MORGANTOWN — Mon County Habitat for Humanity wants to bring it home for 2019.
So much so, in fact,  the organization is changing its name to Mon Valley Habitat for Humanity, come Jan. 1.
That one word equals three counties.
With a new mission for the new year, Mon Valley Habitat for Humanity is expanding its services to neighboring Preston and Marion counties, in addition to Monongalia.
The nonprofit, ecumenical Christian organization helps build houses for people who might not get to live that part of the American Dream otherwise.
Shawnda Cook won’t slam the door in your face with that mission statement.
As the executive director of Mon Valley Habitat for Humanity, Cook wields cost ledgers and crowbars — often in the same morning at the site of any Habitat build.
“Home ownership is still the American Dream,” she said, while on a build  a couple of years back.
“And it’s very heartening when our families get to move in.”
That’s because they work for it.
Habitat homes —  and there have been more 800,000 of them constructed renovated and repaired since the international organization’s founding in Americus, Ga., in 1976 — have sweat equity pre-built into the plans.
You’ll find such houses from Ritchie County to Romania, and Habitat speaks its own language of the above.
Each homeowner is required to put some 250 hours of muscle (sweat equity, that is) into the home.
Same for other family members 18 or older who will also be living there.
Hammering down roof shingles.
Pouring concrete for the foundation.
Anything else and everything else, within reason. (More sensitive work such as plumbing or wiring is undertaken by volunteers with expertise in those areas).
A Habitat house, Cook said, is a parable and metaphor of staying at it.
“It’s like, ‘This is my roof, over my head.’ ”
Visit www.moncountyhfh.org for more information  —  whether you’d like build and live in a Habitat home, or help someone else do the same.
If you’re interested in volunteering, call Christina Cook, Mon Valley Habitat’s program coordinator, at 304-292-0914, extension 101.
With the expanded area, the organization is also looking for more places to build.
Call Shawnda Cook at 304-292-0914, extension 100, if you have land you’d like to donate for a build.
Mon Valley Habitat for Humanity has put up 57 homes to date in the Morgantown area, providing more than 230 people with a collective roof over their heads.
The door to house No. 53 was opened to social worker Kellie Price in the middle of a snowstorm three years ago.
Price, who was putting in long hours as a social worker, was logging even more time on her days off.
“I was exhausted,” she said, “but I kept looking over at the house. I knew it was all going to be worth it.”

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