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North Forsyth family of eight getting Habitat home

NORTH FORSYTH — A family of eight from Forsyth County expects to move into a new home this fall after helping to build it with local volunteers.

Habitat for Humanity North Central Georgia, along with the General Motor Foundation and teamGM Cares Volunteers from GM’s Atlanta IT Innovation Center, broke ground on the home for Brian and Amanda McKinzie and their six children on June 6.

The parents are natives of Forsyth County, having grown up together and graduating from South Forsyth High School. They also both have worked for the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office for more than a decade.

Brian McKinzie has been there for 11 years, working in animal control ordinances and permits before being transferred to the uniform patrol unit.

Amanda McKinzie worked in the 911 center for nearly 11 years before becoming a stay-at-home mom after losing her job.

“They’ve been good to our family no matter my circumstances, but needless to say we’ve been struggling quite a bit,” Amanda McKinzie said.

Shortly after they went down to one salary, they had their sixth child.

“People ask us why we keep having kids, but how are we supposed to know when something will happen?” she said. “It’s not a free home. You have to pay them back. Now we just don’t have to worry about renting or where we’re going to be.”

Their home is part of a project made possible by a $1 million grant from the GM Foundation to Habitat for Humanity International. The grant will fund nine homes in the nation with the “goal of assisting current and former military service members.”

Two additional grant-funded projects will take place in Brazil and Nepal.

Since 2013, the GM Foundation has donated more than $3 million to Habitat, which has touched the lives of 166 partner families and helped revitalize 30 neighborhoods across the country.

“This is about more than just building a house,” said GM Foundation President Vivian Pickard. “This is about giving families like the McKinzies the stability of a permanent home and a better sense of belonging to a community.”

The McKinzie family, with kids aged 14, 12, 10, 9, 7 and 11 months, had to apply for the project. They have been living in a cabin on Forsyth’s north end that is considered a two-bedroom with “some extra space.”

“All of us were at the groundbreaking, and our pastor was there, and so many strangers were there we didn’t even know,” Amanda McKinzie said. “You don’t even know these people, but they’re willing to help total strangers. It’s an answer to a prayer for our family.”