Walls raised on latest West St. Tammany Habitat build


Original Article on Nola.com

Habitat for Humanity raised the wall on its newest build in west St. Tammany on June 7 with the combined efforts of the local religious communities.

Named the "Building on our Faith" committee, people from all faiths joined together to work side-by-side with Habitat homebuyers to build a home for Bridgette Moritz and her son Valen Malinosky.

Faith partners in the build are Christ Episcopal Church, Christ Episcopal School, Church of the King, Covington Presbyterian Church, Greater Starlight Baptist Church, International Orthodox Christian Charities, Mary Queen of Peace Church, Most Holy Trinity Catholic Church, New Beginnings Church, New Covenant Presbyterian Church, Northshore Jewish Congregation, Our Lady of the Lake Men's Club, St. Anselm Catholic Church, St. Jane de Chantal Church, St. Michael's Episcopal Church, St. Paul's School and St. Timothy's Methodist Church.

The morning opened with a welcome from Maurer van Voorthuysen, Habitat St. Tammany West board chair.

Van Voorthuysen has been involved with Habitat since 2000 and is presently nearing the end of her 6-year term on the board. During her years of involvement, Habitat has built 10 houses per year.

"The West St. Tammany chapter is the 10th oldest in the country, founded in 1981," Van Voorthuysen said. "We work in the areas of Mandeville, Covington, Madisonville, Lacombe and a little bit towards Folsom."

Pastor Eddie Swan of New Beginnings Church led the opening prayer followed by a pledge of allegiance.

Donor representatives Fr. Michael Chendorain of International Orthodox Christian Charities, Deacon Dan Gray of International Orthodox Christian Charities and Keith Bobb-Semple, Dream Team Community Liaison of Church of the King spoke.

The International Orthodox Christian Charities is the humanitarian agency of the Orthodox church including the Eastern Orthodox church and the Greek Orthodox church among others. IOCC brought a substantial number of volunteers from New Jersey to the build.

"What God expects of us in giving is much more than just writing a check," Bobb-Semple said. "We are the hands and feet of Jesus as well."

Church of the King donated both a substantial number of volunteers and funds and is a major sponsor of the project.

Building on Faith Committee Chair Chad Lockfield acknowledge the work of the committee and sponsors.

National sponsors who contributed to the build are Bin There Done That Dumpster Rental, Cleco, Cree Lighting, Dow, Schneider Electric, FHL Bank of Dallas, Hunter Douglas, Valspar Paint, Whirlpool, and Yale locks.

Homebuyer Bridgette Moritz, accompanied by her son Valen, spoke next. Moritz works full-time as a housekeeper.

All of her income goes to daily living expenses.

Currently living in an older townhome, the building is damp and has caused sinus and allergies for Moritz and her son. Moritz applied for the program and has completed all of her coursework and is working on her volunteer hours.

Valen, age 7, loves to play basketball and is looking forward to having his own backyard and a pet dog.

Pastor Eddie Swan of New Beginnings Church blessed the project.

All volunteers joined together to raise the first wall which had been previously fabricated by the Habitat crew. After the ceremony, work continued with the homebuyers and volunteers building side by side.

Jeff St. Romain, President and CEO of Habitat was on hand throughout the event.

"I want to stress that Habitat homeowners sign a mortgage and buy their homes. They are not given free homes," St. Romain said. "Some have that misconception about the program."

After classes on financial fitness, homebuyer counseling, understanding your mortgage, minor home repair and after doing part of their sweat equity work hours, Habitat homeowners purchase their home from the Habitat program under a 30-year 0 percent interest mortgage.