Mobile Sightseeing

Trip Start Nov 26, 2010
Trip End Nov 18, 2011

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Flag of United States  , Alabama
Monday, December 6, 2010

Another day off.  The local Habitat affiliate works Tues-Sat.  Visited the office and met Jennifer Tidwell, the volunteer coordinator.  The Mobile affiliate has been in existence since 1988.  It took them 2 years to build their first house.  From 1990 until 2005 (pre-hurricane Katrina) they were averaging six simple, decent homes for families whom without this program would never have been able to become homeowners.  When Katrina arrived on August 29, 2005, Mobile found itself flooded with not only with people looking for a place to live who had their homes in nearby Bayou La Batre destroyed, but also lots of volunteers from around the country and lots of donations.  So many vlounteers were flooding New Orleans, La and Biloxi Ms. along the coast that Mobile got all the overflow.  Their affiliates production of new homes jumped overnight from 6 a year to 40 a year.  They have maintained that level since 2005. This coming February they expect to reach the 200 home milestone.  In addition to building new homes they have also tapped into the NSP (Neighborhood Stabilization Program) , a federal program run by HUD that, if you can endure the paperwork,  sells abandoned foreclosed homes to non-profits, provides funding for the reconstruction and then Habitat can sell the restored homes to people who meet the guidelines of both Hud and Habitat.  The slow start of the affiliate reminded me of a story I heard told by the late founder of both Habitat and Fuller Centers, Millard Fuller.  Some people had contracted Habititus and were wanting to start an affiliate in their community.  They had some land but not much else.  They asked Millard, "How much money should we have before we start our affiliate?"  Millard replied, "It would be irresponsible to begin the affiliate with any less than one dollar."  He told them, "Here's what you do-  Get yourself a sign and put it on the land that you have announcing that you will be building a home for the Smith family.  Then get some shovels, if you dont have any, borrow some and start digging."  The group did just that and ask they were digging, a man was driving by, saw the sign and stopped to see what the people were doing.  They said, " We are building a home for the Smith family.  Where are you getting the money for it?  Well, we dont know.  As the story turned out, the man who stopped ended up sponsoring the start-up funds for their first home.
     Among todays pictures is a picture of where I am staying this week,  It is called the Seton Center.  It is attached to a high school and is a former convent built in 1880.  Solid building.  It has been used for housing volunteers since 2005.  No nuns around.
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