Maryland Parishioners Work with Local Habitat for Humanity

Rebecca Doel Around the Province

SILVER SPRING, Md. — After four years of building homes for Latin American communities, parishioners of St. Camillus Church here entered a new phase of their partnership with Habitat for Humanity, helping to refurbish old homes for new owners in their own community.

On July 25, two dozen parishioners, accompanied by pastor Michael Johnson, OFM, spent the day restoring two houses to decent, livable conditions. This was the second time St. Francis Builds, the home-building ministry at St. Camillus, participated in such a weekend. The next will be Aug. 29. The parish will continue this service until 10 area homes are complete.

Ed Kelly, coordinator of St. Francis Builds, said Michael is “the inspiration for all the Habitat work done by parishioners.” He said Mike will be helping again on Aug. 29. He is also instrumental in the organization and supervision of each group that travels to Central America.

camilIn this local Habitat for Humanity project, volunteers and new homeowners work side-by-side, helping to rehabilitate older homes that need total interior makeovers. Habitat has bought 10 homes in the Aspen Hill area, which are professionally cleared of lead paint, asbestos and mold. Once that process is through, the families and volunteers — including those from St. Camillus — help fix up the homes.

Kitchens are equipped with new cabinets and appliances, and walls and floors are insulated to make the homes more environmentally-friendly.

An article on St. Camillus’ Web site explained that the builds can be “a great way for children and parents of all ages to bond. After a day of work, the participants return for a picnic and reflection about what they did and why they did it.”

Kelly said the parish will continue their ministry of building homes in Latin America as well. To date, the parish has built 12 homes in Bolivia, Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras.

The desire to serve in their own community was born out of the fact that “not everyone who would like to help a family improve their living conditions is able to make the commitment to international travel and a week away from family and work,” Kelly said.

He added that Habitat is preparing to acquire additional homes in another section of the county.

“Our intention is to continue helping.”

— Rebecca Doel is communication coordinator for Holy Name Province.