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Raising The Roof

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The “Kiss” group

Habitat for Humanity’s 12th Annual Raisin’ the Roof gala raised roofs, hopes and expectations for a brighter future for Longview residents in need of decent housing. Waiters and waitresses delightfully masqueraded as Greek gods, clowns, pirates, Fred and Wilma Flintstone, Lucy and Ethel, Harry Potter, KISS band members and other unmistakables. Even the tables had themes at the annual gala with its dinner, live music, dancing, raffle and silent auction. The night’s proceeds go to raise the $70,000 needed to finance Habitat’s first home to be built this spring. Last year the silent auction alone brought in $7000.

This year’s evening out was, with 59 tables, bigger that last year’s 46-table event. The program was a great success, exceeding its objective by raising $71,000. The partial breakdown went as follows:

Sponsorships $28,560

Celebrity Waiters’ and waitresses’ tips $5000

Tickets $18,250

Raffle $6140

Silent Auction $11,338

Donations $2060

Habitat for Humanity board member and five year celebrity waitress Anne-Marie Lewis commented on how the evening’s great success was due to the participating businesses, local groups, churches, individuals, volunteers, board members and the executive director, La Juan Hollis.

The Diagnostic Clinic and Longview Regional Medical Center were principal sponsors of the event.

“It is all about raising funds and finding new ways to gain income [with which] to build,” said Lewis. The Longview chapter of Habitat for Humanity aims to build homes for four families this year. According to Lewis, Donations have made possible a 9% increase in the Habitat Restore, which provides building materials. Volunteers have given 2800 hours to construct new dwellings while local individuals and businesses have contributed 183,000 new products to date.

Families are approved through a selection process. Accepted families are also expected to provide manpower and equity hours all the way through their homes’ completion. The celebrity waiters and waitresses made their own enthusiasm clear.

Debbie Sadler Queen of Hearts“This is my favorite charity,” said Queen of Hearts waitress Debbie Sadler. “I donate to the silent auction. It is a worthwhile charity.”

“This is one small way to help someone get a home,” said waitress Paula McCauley.

“This is a most worthy cause,” said waitress Debbie Fleming, “People need to know about it and donate to the silent auction.”

Big business is another vital contributor. The American Electric Power (AEP) Foundation is the philanthropic arm of the Southwestern Electric Power Company (SWEPCO,) and recently presented a donation of $70,000 to fund a new Restore facility to be located at 905 McCann Road. SWEPCO External Affairs Manager Keith Honey explained his company’s desire to assist Habitat.

“The AEP Foundation is happy to partner with Longview Habitat for Humanity in constructing a new Restore facility,” he said. “AEP Southwestern Electric Power Company has long been a supporter of Longview Habitat and was pleased to complete the first SWEPCO Habitat home in Longview during our 100th anniversary last year. “We look forward to many more years of being a partner with Habitat in advancing the cause of building affordable housing for the hard-working citizens of our community.”

The AEP Foundation is part of the corporation’s tradition of charitable giving toward achieving its stated goal: “To support and play an active, positive role in the communities in which we live and work.” The AEP Foundation concentrates on funding the following areas: Improving lives through education, starting in early childhood and continuing through higher education, protecting the environment, providing basic human services in the areas of hunger, housing, health and safety, and enriching the quality of life in our communities through art, music and cultural heritage.

Longview Habitat for Humanity President Griff Hubbard declared his organization’s gratitude.

“Longview Habitat for Humanity is grateful for this generous support from AEP/SWEPCO, and remains humbled by the continuing commitment of service to our mission from Keith Honey and AEP,” said Hubbard. “2013 remains a challenging year for Longview Habitat as the agency grows in both human outreach and new home ownership. On behalf of Executive Director La Juan Hollis and the board of directors we honor AEP/SWEPCO for its dedication to the whole of a diverse community.”

The Longview Habitat for Humanity Foundation for the Future Capital Campaign is planning for the purchase of property, and rehabilitating an existing structure to house the new Restore’s executive offices. Gifts and pledges have so far raised $341,000. Another $740,000 will need to be collected over the next 12 to 18 months. “Today the need for decent, affordable housing for lower income families in Longview greatly exceeds our ability to serve,” said Hollis. “Last year ten families were qualified to begin the Habitat homeownership program. However, funding limitations restricted the program to just four families. The Foundation for the Future Campaign will allow us to double the number of families that we serve within two years of completion.”

Although its roots go back to the small Christian community of Koinonia Farms outside Americus, Georgia founded by farmer/Biblical scholar Clarence Jordan in 1942, philanthropists Millard and Linda Fuller officially founded Habitat for Humanity in 1976. It has grown into a major local, national and international factor in relieving poverty-induced homelessness. The Fullers selflessly gave up a profitable business and affluence in Montgomery, Georgia in order to lead lives of Christian service. They came up with the concept of “partnership housing” in which those needing homes work alongside those willing to toil to provide them with acceptable housing. Then and now these houses are constructed without cost or any interest on the loans. Expenses are paid through a revolving account called the “Fund for Humanity.”

The money in the fund comes from the new homeowners’ house payments, no-interest loans donated by supporters, and from money acquired through fund-raising activities. This capital enables Habitat to build yet more homes. To participate in this great cause, donate funds, items or volunteer, please call (903)236-0900 or visit online at www.longviewhabitat.org.

Story and photos by Joycelyne Fadojutimi jfadr@infinitieplus.com

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