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Habitat has hammered its way to the top

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By Michel Northsea

A nonprofit organization, Habitat for Humanity, made the list of the top 100 builders, in volume, in the United States for 2007. The efforts of its volunteers put them number 14 on the list, published by Builder’s magazine. They closed on 5,619 homes in 2007.

Habitat for Humanity of Marion County contributed to the home count. They closed on 18 homes, most in west Ocala, last year. With more than 1,800 affiliates in the United States, the Marion County group ranks number 27 among other chapters.

Without the Habitat program, many of these families would never have had a house to call home.

Habitat isn’t a giveaway program. Each family moving into a home must make a modest monthly mortgage payment.

They have to show they really want a home to call their own by putting in hours and hours of sweat equity on their home and other Habitat homes, to even qualify for a home.

Everyone can keep the Habitat program going strong by volunteering their time, lending their talent to a project or sharing their earthly treasures.

Locally volunteers gather on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays to build homes.

Those not used to swinging a hammer can still help others achieve the American dream by working in one of the home stores; there’s one opening in the next several months at Jasmine Plaza.

Other volunteer positions include mentoring a potential homeowner, helping with site selection or even cooking for a potluck lunch for those toting the lumber and driving the nails.

Check out the Marion County’s chapter Web site, http://www.habitatocala.org/ to see if there is a job calling your name. If time is of the essence, consider a financial donation.

Watching a young child in the yard of their new home, you’ll be glad you had a wee part in making a dream come true.

So you know: Builders 1-13 on the list included: D.R. Horton, Lennar Corp., Centex Corp, Pulte Homes, KM Home, Hovnanian Enterprises, NVR, Beazer Homes USA, The Ryland Group, M.D.C. Holdings, Standard Pacific Corp., Meritage Homes Corp., and Toll Brothers.