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Habitat for Humanity hosts interfaith build

Last Friday, I got the opportunity to swing by a home-build for Champaign-Urbana’s chapter of Habitat for Humanity. As if building homes really quickly wasn’t enough, this particular home-build was even more special than usual – as this was one of Habitat’s interfaith builds, where 23 Champaign County faith organizations join forces to build two houses over two weeks (wow!). 

This year’s interfaith build in Urbana was a smashing success, featuring more than 200 volunteers. For pictures of the event, including pictures of both houses, click on down below, and for more information on who was involved (and how to get involved with Habitat), check out the press release below: 

Urbana, IL. Thursday, October 20, 2016  This week, Habitat for Humanity has begun working alongside twenty-three Champaign County faith groups who are participating in the first Interfaith Blitz Build.  The media is invited to visit the build site at 1212 Hill Street in Urbana tomorrow, Friday October 21st between 1-3pm.  Volunteers from five different faith groups will be working alongside Habitat home owner Nicole Blackwell-Parker at this time.  Over 200 volunteers are expected to participate in the two week Blitz Build; October 19-23 at the 1212 Hill Street home, and October 26-30 on the LaKendra O’Bannon home at 1203 Beslin in Urbana.

Sheila Dodd, Executive Director for Habitat explains, “We are eager to begin this effort bringing faith groups together to connect with one another in service with these two families.  We hope this opportunity provides the faith community a chance to embrace new connections as they work alongside one another on these two homes.”

As Habitat home owners, the Blackwell-Parker and O’Bannon families will each be contributing 250 hours of sweat equity in building their homes.  They are both eager to embrace the interfaith alliance of volunteers. “Our family is very excited to get started with this overwhelming support, says Nicole Blackwell-Parker.” “It’s more than I ever dreamed, to have so many different people all coming out to help us build.”  LaKendra O’Bannon, general manager at Einstein’s on University notes, “since the Interfaith kickoff in September, I have met so many of the volunteers who stop in for coffee and introduce themselves; telling me how excited they are to get started on my house.”

The faith partners are equally excited to participate.  Rabbi Alan Cook of the Sinai Temple in Champaign says, “If we can partner together on a wonderful project like this, and can make positive changes in our community through this effort, perhaps we can see the innate humanity in each other, and begin to break down barriers.”
Central Illinois Mosque & Islamic Center’s Imam Ousmane Sawadogo says, “For us, it is important to know the one another.  If there is no dialogue, then we cannot know one another.  The Koran tells us to help each other; and to support each other in what is good and righteous.  This project provides an opportunity to do this, together.”  Having participated with Habitat on previous projects, Pastor Michael Crosby of the First Mennonite Church echoes his peers in mentioning…“we are excited about the connection building that comes about when doing service together. I hope that this is an inspirational project. Our faith tradition encourages us to look for the face of God in others– and in their stories.  As we share stories in this project, we will also be creating stories of our own–and I hope this has a lot of power for everyone participating.”

After the October Blitz build, Habitat’s professional contractors will work over the winter months on the electrical, plumbing, and hvac systems.  The Interfaith volunteers will return in mid-March and spend four to six weeks completing the homes.  Participating faith groups include; Canaan Baptist Church, Central Illinois Mosque and Islamic Center, Community United Church of Christ, Faith Church-Urbana, Faith United Methodist Church, First Mennonite Church, First Presbyterian Church-Champaign, First Presbyterian Church-Urbana, Good Shepherd Lutheran, Grace Lutheran Church, Illini Hillel for Jewish Life, Mahomet United Methodist Church, McKinley Presbyterian Church, Foundation, New Covenant Fellowship Church, Savoy United Methodist Church, Sinai Temple, St. Matthew Lutheran Church, Stone Creek Church, Three Hierarchs Greek Orthodox Church, Unitarian Universalist Church of Urbana-Champaign, University Place Christian Church, Wesley United Methodist Church, Westminster Presbyterian Church. For more information on the Habitat Interfaith Blitz Build October 19-23 and 26-30  please contact Kelly Hill 217-819-5115.

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