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Local Habitat for Humanity chapter could be revived

By Kay S. Pedrotti In the late 1990s, Habitat for Humanity built a house on Mill Street and six houses on Cherry Street. The families who received the first two homes, and put ‘sweat equity’ into them during the building process, are still living there. Habitat is a program well known throughout the world. At the time houses were built in Barnesville, there was a thriving chapter here, said James Holloway, one of the original members. They held group meetings at churches to generate interest, volunteers and donations, said Bill Claxton. Claxton recalls that one of the things the group did to raise funds was to work concession stands at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta. ’We all got on a bus and went up there to train, rode the bus every day to the venues, and we got a percentage of our sales. That’s how they kept all those concession stands manned without having to pay anybody,’ Claxton added.’I was proud to be able to help the Habitat program with the real estate end of it, and I’d be happy to see it come back again.’ Holloway said he and others are seeking to revive the chapter for two reasons: to provide good homes for low-income families, and to help the city renew some of its ‘blighted properties.’ ’We still have funds, on hold in Griffin, to purchase land to start new houses. In addition, there might be economic revitalization grants the city could apply for in the case of blighted properties. We just need the people to get it going again,’ he added. At the time when the chapter turned its assets over to the Griffin office, said Sue Dunbar, the officers besides Dunbar were Kelly Runion, James Holloway, Janet Barras, Lamar and Mildred Musick. ’There were hundreds involved. It was a wonderful thing to see those houses go up in Barnesville,’ Dunbar said. ‘I am glad James (Holloway) is trying to get it started again. I hope people will volunteer who have more time right now than I do.’ Habitat builds houses with the help of volunteers and prospective families, and then works with the residents for a low-interest 20-year mortgage loan. The first house built here is now paid for, Holloway said, and the second is very close. Charlotte O’Neal and family got the second home. She has worked as a bookkeeper with the tax commissioner’s office since 1996, the same year they moved into the home. A lifetime Barnesville resident, she is the daughter of the late Dan and Mattie Lizzie O’Neal. She is a Lamar County Comprehensive High graduate who went on to Southern Crescent and has three adult children, Dontavious Banks, who lives with her; Tanika Long, M.D., anesthesiologist and director of the anesthesia department at St. Francis Hospital in Philadelphia, and Kristi Mathis, an elementary school teacher in McDonough. Charlotte has one granddaughter, Zoe Jordan. ‘My advice to any young people who dream of owning a home,’ Charlotte said, ‘is don’t give up that dream. Somehow, sometime you will have the opportunity to have a home. I am thankful to Habitat for Humanity and all the volunteers that I was able to get a home of my own.’ Holloway is asking for anyone interested in reviving the Habitat program to call him at 770-401-0053.

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