Building on hope: Habitat group donating 20 new homes

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 8, 2006

A year ago, Donna and Randy Lagle learned they were moving. The Shelby County couple faced one problem, however; they had nowhere to go.

The Lagle&8217;s fortune instantly changed once they were introduced to Habitat for Humanity. &8220;Habitat gives us hope. We had nowhere to go, and this changes our life considerably,&8221; said Donna Lagle.

This year, Habitat for Humanity will build 20 new homes and sell them to low-income families at cost, financed with zero-percent interest. Each family buying a home must first put in 300 hours working for Habitat, either on other houses or at the Habitat for Humanity Outlet Center. Next, each family applying must submit letters of recommendation from friends and church pastors and pass a credit rating and background check.

Once construction begins on their house, the Lagles must put in 800 hours of work on their house and work at least once a week. Friends, family and church members may help, but Donna and Randy Lagle must each work at least 125 hours. The couple also must attend 15 educational classes on home ownership.

Habitat for Humanity not only builds houses, but strives to build local communities as well.

John Lindley, a retired, former Shelby County citizen volunteers full-time with Habitat for Humanity and has been doing so for six years. He said, &8220;When you give [families] keys to their house and it&8217;s the first house they&8217;ve ever owned, it makes the kids better students, the parents better citizens and the students better citizens,&8221; in turn strengthening the communities where the houses are built. He commends Habitat for the program&8217;s positive affect on the community. &8220;Anytime you can put an individual in a home it is better for the community,&8221; Lindley explained. &8220;The kids will go into the house and say, &8216;This is going to be my room.&8217; They have ownership.&8221;

Above all else, Habitat for Humanity&8217;s main priority is to change people&8217;s lives, whether those lives are of volunteers or recipients. &8220;It&8217;s not a hand-out, it&8217;s a hand-up,&8221; said Donna Lagle.

Grateful for the opportunity they were given, Donna and Randy Lagle plan to help other families through Habitat. &8220;There are some single women that have small children, and you can have people work for you. Some families live in an drug infested community and it gets good people out of a bad and dangerous place.&8221;

Lindley said after he worked on his first house, he fell in love with Habitat. &8220;It was my mission and my ministry,&8221; Lindley said. &8220;You give money and sweat equity and you get to see the look in people&8217;s eyes and the tangible results of all the efforts.&8221;