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Dallas church makes 10-year commitment to Habitat

2/18/2003 News media contact: Linda Green · (615) 742-5470 · Nashville, Tenn

By United Methodist News Service*

Highland Park United Methodist Church in Dallas has made a $5 million, 10-year commitment to sponsor 100 Habitat for Humanity homes. The church is also sponsoring the first completed Habitat house in war-torn Afghanistan.

Habitat for Humanity International began exploring emergency shelter needs and opportunities for Habitat home building in Afghanistan in February 2002. The result was an initiative in Northern Afghanistan that has since borne fruit in Salbarun Village in the Balhk Province, about two hours' travel time from Mazar-e-Sharif.

Highland Park financed construction of a home there and contributed partial funding for four more. Habitat's international arm has been working since July with villagers to build 33 homes, renovate four houses and repair 162 more, bringing all the village's housing to local standards.

The church is also the leading sponsor of Habitat homes in Dallas. Its 100-house pledge is the largest faith commitment made to Habitat for Humanity International's More Than Houses campaign, said Diane Wolfe of Dallas Area Habitat for Humanity. The campaign aims to bring to 200,000 the number of Habitat homes worldwide by the end of 2005.

The ongoing involvement of Southern Methodist University with Habitat compelled the church to underwrite its 25th house, which is being constructed on the campus of the United Methodist-related school Feb. 15 through March 1. The house will be the 300th for the area Habitat and will be relocated within Dallas when completed. The university has built three homes in the city, and its students, faculty and staff have worked on Habitat projects in a variety of ways.

"Construction of the 300th house is an important milestone," said SMU President R. Gerald Turner. "Building it at SMU will help raise awareness of Habitat's contributions to the community and SMU's long-term support of their efforts."
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*Information for this story was provided by Jenni Smith of media relations at Southern Methodist University and Diane Wolfe of Habitat for Humanity.

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