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Habitat recipient overjoyed at new home

By JILL MOON
The Telegraph - Click Here to read the original article!

Home blessing

For The Telegraph/JAMES B. RITTER

ALTON -More than a year ago, Shelby Maholland embarked upon fulfilling the American dream of having her own home for her young family.

The single mom stood in her new house in the 1100 block of Wallace Street in Alton, while Alton Area Habitat for Humanity board members, volunteers and friends blessed the house at a home dedication Sunday. Maholland learned about Alton Area Habitat for Humanity after she read in a newspaper about how the nonprofit organization helped a Roxana woman get a house with a no-interest, affordable mortgage.

Maholland Googled the name of the national organization and learned about the Alton Area Habitat for Humanity group, called them up, and they put her name on a list for consideration during the selection process for their next new construction project. Since then, her family of two, made up of Maholland and her son Rylan, 4, grew to include her 6-month-old son, Braylon.

At the time, she rented a small house. But Maholland, who works at Saint Anthony's Physicians Group on the campus of Saint Anthony's Health Center, stood proudly Sunday in a new, spacious inviting abode.

After Upper Alton Baptist Church's the Rev. Brad Donoho, who also is the Alton Area Habitat for Humanity Family Committee chair, led Sunday's home dedication and prayer, he invited Maholland to address the guests standing in her living room. The Family Committee is involved in choosing a Habitat for Humanity house recipient through a selection process, which began last spring, and by mid-summer they chose Maholland.

"Yes, I'm trying not to cry," she said, as she choked up, when Donoho asked if she wanted to speak. "Without you guys, I wouldn't be able to live in a home this nice as young as I am; I appreciate each and every one of you from the bottom of my heart."

The three criteria that recipients must meet are: the need for adequate housing; the ability to pay the mortgage, although it's reduced because of volunteer support and it's interest-free; and willingness to partner with Habitat for Humanity by learning different aspects of owning a home, doing handiwork and putting in 300 sweat equity hours. Family and friends can fulfill some of those hours for the recipients.

During the dedication ceremony, all present were invited to lay hands on the house while Donoho pronounced the blessings for the house and each of its rooms.

During the litany of dedication, guests of different denominations responded after each pronouncement, "We dedicate this home, God." They followed the litany with the Lord's Prayer, and each person said the prayer as they learned it within their denominations.

After Donoho presented Maholland with a Bible for the whole family, he gave Maholland a second Bible, written for children.

Maholland's oldest son cut ribbons that were Habitat for Humanity's signature colors - green and blue - and stretched across the hallway leading to the bedrooms and bathroom.

"She's so resourceful; that's why I'm so proud of her," Maholland's best friend, Amanda Frey, said as she held Maholland's youngest son. "She's got it together and always doing things for her kids. I watch how hard she works."

As has almost become a tradition for Alton Area Habitat for Humanity, The Women's Missionary Union of Illinois, made up of Baptist women from around the state, built the 1,170-square-foot home for Maholland. They also built the Alton group's previous projects for its recipients.

"They did all the work; 19 women worked that week," Alton Area Habitat for Humanity President Jim Hanlon said. "They like working with our group around here."

Last year, the Alton group did a rehabilitation project with Lewis and Clark Community College, and three years ago they built their first new house in Alton.

Volunteers laid the foundation for Maholland's house last Aug. 25, and construction began a few weeks later on Sept. 10. The Alton area group included foam insulation in Maholland's house, thanks to a grant from Phillips 66.

"It's 50 percent better than conventional insulation, and we could do that because of their generosity," Hanlon said.

He also thanked the city of Alton, the city's Zoning Board and the Alton Street Department for their help during construction.

Now, Alton Area Habitat for Humanity will refocus its efforts on fund-raising for its next either new build or rehabilitation project.

"Our goal is to do one project a year," Hanlon said.

The group is negotiating for the lot next to Maholland's house.

For more information about Alton Area Habitat for Humanity, visit the website at www.altonhabitat.org.

jmoon@thetelegraph.com