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Habitat for Humanity hosts Faith Leaders Luncheon

February 2, 2019

Local religious leaders on Thursday filled the halls of the Friedhof Oak Room.

It was the first of what Lori Peters said she hopes will become an annual event. The goal of the Faith Leaders Luncheon is to grow the faith relations arm of the local affiliate.

“We’re trying to keep God at the center for Habitat and we’re trying to bring all the clergy together in town from all of the different parts of the faith community just to talk about Habitat, get together, give them a lunch and celebrate Columbus,” said Peters, executive director of Habitat for Humanity of Columbus.

The nonprofit provides housing to individuals who can’t afford a traditional mortgage, with no-interest loans available to those who meet specific guidelines. Homeowners make a down payment and monthly payments for the house to the Habitat chapter. With that money, future builds are funded.

Peters said she planned on having 50 people in attendance at the lunch. One person present was The Rev. Mariano Menendez, a leader at Word of Life Church in Columbus. He said he decided to come to get more information about the program and learn how the church can help.

“We have helped with Habitat for Humanity for some years now. We really like what they do,” the pastor said. “I’m originally from Guatemala, so I have seen the work Habitat for Humanity does in my own country. So I think what they’re doing is wonderful and it’s a great way to help and empower people.”

The second goal of the event, Peters said, is to celebrate a recent grant received from the financial services organization Thrivent Financial. As previously reported in the Columbus Telegram, the $55,000 grant will help cover half of the cost of the organization’s next home build.

Recently, Peters said construction costs have risen about 30 percent for the group, with the price of the construction going from about $90,000 to $110,000 per house. With the grant, Peters said she hopes to raise the rest of the necessary funds from local faith-based organizations and churches. The nonprofit has already raised $10,000 itself from donations.

Kylie Bloyd, of Columbus, has been selected to be the recipient of the organization’s eighth house built in Columbus. The single mother currently is living in what Peters described as substandard housing with three of her children, ages 7, 9 and 10. Due to recent developments, Bloyd said their current home is no longer safe to occupy. Bloyd said the new house will be the first she’s owned and not rented.

“The last year has been pretty traumatic for my family…it’s just not a safe place to be anymore. We just don’t feel safe there,” Bloyd said about her current home. “A new start is definitely needed.”

The first build day is scheduled for March 16. Peters said she hopes to have the house completed by Labor Day.

“I think giving people a decent and affordable place to live improves all of our lives. It’s a snowball effect where they’re better, then we’re better as a world and a community,” Peters said. “They rely less on government assistance, their kids do better, we all do better in the long run.”

Eric Schucht is a reporter for The Columbus telegram. Reach him via email at eric.schucht@lee.net.

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