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Habitat for Humanity marks 20 years in Forsyth area
Stephen Schoen, president and CEO of Schoen Insulation Serivces, keynote speaker Ravi Zacharias and Russ Hayes, CEO of Habitat for Humanity-North Central Georgia took part in the organizations recent anniversary celebration. - photo by For the Forsyth County News

ALPHARETTA -- The local chapter of a nonprofit that puts — and builds — roofs over families’ heads recently celebrated its 20th anniversary.

A prayer breakfast for Habitat for Humanity-North Central Georgia was held at the Metropolitan Club in Alpharetta. It featured Ravi Zacharias, the globally-recognized founder of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries.

The event coincided with World Habitat Day, a day set aside annual by the United Nations to recognize the importance of decent housing and promote the idea that adequate shelter is a critical factor in helping low-income families break the cycle of poverty.

Habitat for Humanity is a nonprofit Christian housing ministry that builds affordable homes available to low-income families who “demonstrate the capacity for responsible homeownership.”

Since its inception in 1995, the local chapter of the organization has completed 272 homes serving an estimated 1,000 family members in Forsyth, Cherokee, Dawson and northern Fulton counties.

The breakfast also provided an opportunity for donors, volunteers, partner families and board and staff members to rededicate themselves to the group’s vision in providing a decent place to live to anyone who is in need.

Habitat does not give its homes away.

Partner families, who earn 30-60 percent of the Atlanta area median income, purchase their homes at or near appraised value using a 30-year-, no-interest financing provided by Habitat.

They also are required to attend educational classes and perform 200-300 hours of construction “sweat equity” on their homes.

“Habitat for Humanity International has done much to battle the global housing crisis, helping more than 5 million people with housing solutions since its founding in 1976; and Habitat-NCG is justifiably proud of our own achievements,” said Russ Hayes, CEO of Habitat for Humanity-NCG. “These numbers, however, pale in comparison to the massive scope of the problem. Currently, more than 1.6 billion people around the world live in inadequate shelter.”

Zacharias served as the keynote speaker, likening Habitat’s modern-day efforts to those of the Old Testament figure Nehemiah, who took on the task of rebuilding Jerusalem.

The audience included public officials, longtime Habitat volunteers, homeowners and several founders of the local chapter.

Among the founders were Malone Dodson, pastor emeritus of Roswell United Methodist Church, and Scott Sparks, a deacon at St. Peter Chanel Catholic Church.