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Spartanburg church volunteers help start Marion County Habitat for Humanity dorm housing project

July 15, 2018

Jack McCormick of the South Carolina Baptist Association works on the Marion County Habitat for Humanity volunteer dorm housing project on July 11, 2018.

MULLINS, S.C. -- Marion County Habitat for Humanity Executive Director Ricky Hardy was happy to have some help with a new project, assisting in the recovery process from Hurricane Matthew this week. A group of nine volunteers from Morningside Baptist Church in Spartanburg constructed the framing that will convert a 3,000-square foot building on the property into volunteer dorm housing.

Hardee said the building is designed to accommodate 38 individuals in bunk beds with two additional bedrooms for husband and wife teams. The dorm will include a commercial kitchen and dining area with four bathrooms.

“Much work remains to be accomplished in the recovery process and this facility will be a huge asset for that purpose,” he said. “This project will also greatly aid Marion County in being proactive when the next disaster strikes Marion County instead of being reactive to the disaster. When not in use for disaster recovery groups, the facility will be available for use by the county as a warming shelter in the winter or a cooling shelter in the summer. The building will also be available for the American Red Cross to use for emergency shelter as needed.”

Hardee said the project’s planning process started more than a year ago and still awaiting on the full set of drawing from the architectural firm but were able to get a framing permit.

“I can’t begin to say how excited I am,” Hardee said. “Being in the housing industry with Habitat for Humanity, I’ve seen first-hand a lot of chaos that has gone on since the flood. We have actually been a part of one rebuild and one repair. There is still a big need for volunteer housing.”

Hardee said the building will have multiple uses with a target date for completion in early 2019. The cost of the project is $125,000 and the group has raised about $90,000 in grant funding but still need help with funding.

“I’ll be sending appeal letters to churches and got another grant opportunity coming up,” he said.

Hardee said the Marion County Long-term Recovery Group first approached them about volunteer housing after Hurricane Matthew.

“As volunteer groups were coming, they were staying in different churches and that worked good for a while but after six to nine months a year that puts a lot of hardship on the church,” he said. “They were having to accommodate and imagine feeding a group breakfast and dinner every night that can get expensive. So they came to us and with all the work that needs to be done, this is centrally located in Marion County.”

Hardee said he was happy to have Morningside Baptist Church volunteers and the South Carolina Baptist Convention providing building materials.

Morningside Baptist Church volunteer Steve Kibbe said it felt great to be able to help out.

“This is kind of laying the foundation for when another disaster happens because the teams that are coming to help will have a place to stay,” he said. “This was just an empty shell when we got here on Monday and now all of the rooms are all framed up.”

Kibbe said the church participates in mission trips at least twice a year and recently took his youth group to Charleston. “We try to do as much as we can as often as week can,” he said.

Fellow church member and full-time missionary Jack McCormick of the South Carolina Baptist Association heads up a program called Rebuild South Carolina that has was helpful in bringing the volunteers to town.

“We put the program together to help rebuild houses after the 2015 flood and we just kind of spilled over from the flood to doing recovery work from Hurricane Matthew,” McCormick said. “I’m thrilled to get to work with them.”

McCormick has been working as a missionary for more than 15 years and said there remains a lot of work to be done and more volunteers are needed.

Kibbe said he first started working with McCormick in response to Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

The volunteers worked throughout the week and Hardee said next group to help might not arrive until students from Villanova University come to town the first week in October.

In the meantime, Hardee is asking for the public’s assistance in more volunteers and donations. Anyone interested can visit the office at 3153 E. Highway 76 or call (843) 464-3747 or email marioncountyhabitat@sccoast.net

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