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Marietta dinner, auction celebrate Habitat for Humanity

Reagan Karcher, 13, of Marietta, serves dinner during the Habitat for Humanity annual event Friday in Marietta. (Photo by Janelle Patterson)

MARIETTA – For its 20th year, the annual Paul L. Callihan dinner gathered local supporters of educated homeownership.

“Habitat built my house in 1992 back when this started in our area,” said Della Lewis, 54, of Marietta.

Lewis said seeing how the dinner and local support for Habitat for Humanity have grown since its inception in the Valley meant the most to her on Valentine’s Day.

“I paid off my house some time ago; the program works,” she noted.

Habitat for Humanity operates as a nonprofit which not only builds homes for qualified low-income families, but also fosters the skills required to maintain that homeownership.

Marietta Municipal Judge Janet Dyar Welch reviews silent auction bids during the annual Habitat for Humanity dinner Friday. (Photo by Janelle Patterson)

“There’s so much sweat equity that a person gives before they ever even get to choose the site of their house or begin working on their own home,” noted Ammie Rasmussen, the nonprofit’s newest board member.

That sweat equity is built through hours of volunteering on weekends to build others’ homes, then taking classes on minor home repair through Home Depot alongside financial literacy and budgeting classes.

Those hours of work were celebrated Friday with the dinner and auction at the Marietta Shrine Club, gathering several hundred community volunteers, business owners and churches who contribute volunteers to the housing program.

“We came because my mom’s church contributes quite a bit to the program,” said Sarah Sauls, co-owner of Joe Momma’s Kitchen in Marietta. “The dinner was fabulous but it’s also an inspiring night–what better way to spend a night focused on love?”

The 106th and 107th local homeowners through the program both talked Friday about not only what it means to them to see their homes under construction now, but how confident they feel because of the classes they’re taking in tandem with construction.

Habitat recipients Abigale Davis, left, and her mother, Jennifer Davis, try some sweets during the Habitat for Humanity dinner Friday in Marietta. (Photo by Janelle Patterson)

Xzantheia Watson, homeowner 107, is a mother of three and currently lives in a one-bedroom apartment until her home is complete this summer.

“If you embrace the process of the program it is very valuable. I have learned so many skills I would have otherwise not have had the opportunity to learn,” Watson told the gathering. “I’ve also learned how to do minor bathroom repairs… It’s really nice, especially when you’re a single parent to know how to do something like that.”

Jennifer Davis, homeowner 106, said she is focused on providing a safe home for her 7-year-old daughter and 15-year-old son.

“Personally what means most in addition to the friendships I’ve made is how empowered I feel,” said Davis. “Now I’m more comfortable to fix something (and) I’m better at budgeting.”

Davis said her children are also anxiously awaiting the day they can move into their home, explaining the family drives by the Williamstown building site on the way home from school at least once per week.

At center, Sarah and Eric Sauls spend their Valentine’s Day dinner supporting Habitat for Humanity at its annual dinner and auction Friday in Marietta. (Photo by Janelle Patterson)

“My son was really bummed he was too young to volunteer and help build our house,” she noted. “But I think once he turns 16, he’ll want to give back, too.”

The dinner and auction aren’t the only ways to support homeownership, said Robin Stewart, Habitat’s director of resource development.

“After tonight to stay involved help us to look for property; we have several families approved and volunteering but finding property to build is our greatest need in Washington County,” she explained.

Also offered were the ideas to consider a monthly donation to the nonprofit or to bring lunches to volunteers at job sites or the nonprofit’s thrift shop in Vienna.

Members of the Marietta Midde School volleyball team and the Marietta College Delta Tau Delta fraternity also volunteered their time for the event Friday, serving the dinners and selling 50/50 raffle tickets throughout the night.

For more information on how to contribute or benefit from the program visit habitatmov.com.

Janelle Patterson can be reached at jpatterson@mariettatimes.com.

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Sponsors for the 20th annual Paul L. Callihan dinner and auction:

* Solvay

* DuPont

* Contractors Building Supply

* Peoples Bank

* Real Living McCarthy Real Estate

* Marietta Noon Lions Club

* First Settlement Orthopaedics

* Mike and Rosanne Buell

* Marietta Minerals Processing

* Riverview Credit Union

* Managers Resource Group

* Copper Leaf Interior Design

* The Citizens Bank Company

* Marietta Community Foundation

* Waterford Commercial and Savings Bank

* Lang Masonry

* Wolf Creek Contracting

* Jennifer and Russ Garrison

* Betty and Charlie Matthews

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