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Day Four Of 'Welcome Home'

On Thursday, Nov. 19, the fourth day of CBS This Morning's weeklong series, Welcome Home, volunteers from around the country saw the house in Yonkers, N.Y, take shape.

Just a day before, the interiors of the home were worked on, reported CBS This Morning Co-Anchor Mark McEwen. In the kitchen, cabinets, countertops, and a sink were installed. Finally, the floor was put into place.

The owner of the home under construction, Michelle Hayes, was herself a volunteer. She and her four daughters were looking forward to moving from the projects where they lived, to a one-family home.

The Hayes family is just the most recent of a long line of families able to buy homes of their own, due to the unique work of an organization called Habitat for Humanity.

Gayle Kinzer, a single mother of two, did more than just pray to get her new home. She put in hundreds of hours of "sweat equity," building her own house and working for the local branch of Habitat for Humanity.

Gayle Kinzer (CBS)

"The Lord has really blessed me and my family to have a nice home and a loving home," Kinzer said when she received the keys to her new home. "I'm so thankful and one thing I said I was going to say was, Hallelujah!"

"If a family doesn't do a sweat equity, they don't move in. It's as simple as that, because it's a helping hand rather than handout," says Jim Killoran, who oversees the Yonkers affiliate of Habitat for Humanity.

Habitat for Humanity was founded 22 years ago by Millard Fuller, a successful businessman who gave it all up to live a life of Christian service. He found his calling in organizing volunteers to build simple houses. Homeowners pay no interest on the loans to purchase the houses, and their loan repayments are used to buy materials to build more houses.

Fuller has called Habitat a "a social and religious movement - to eliminate substandard housing and homelessness."

The organization received a big boost in 1984 when former President Jimmy Carter joined the volunteer effort, donating a week every year to build houses in different locations around the world.

Habitat is now one of the top 10 homebuilders in the country. But the fruits of its work are more than just new homes.

"It's just a wonderful feeling all inside to actually be here, and I can look back, and I can say I built my house," says Tabitha Truscott, a new home recipient. "It's just a blessin, it really is."

Habitat for Humanity has built more than 70,000 houses in more than 50 countries. They often build in "blitzes," putting up 10 to even 100 houses in a week.

On Thursday, Nov. 19, the final touches were put on the Hayes home so that the family could move in on Friday, Nov. 20, said master builder and CBS News Consultant Bob Vila.

"They'll be putting down sod for the entire yard, and doing various plantings all day," Vila said, as the landscape work was put in place Nov. 19. "We're having a pretty mild fall, so the grass and plants should be able to take root before winter sets in."

The home is not only a showcase of housing technology, but of the ingenuity of architect Ed Binkley.

Binkley, who is vice president of the Evans Group in Orlando, Fla., was on hand to see his drawing plans come to fruition. His design was chosen in a contest sponsored by residential architect magazine.

The contest appealed to him, he says, partly because of the challenge of creating a comfortable, energy-efficient home with a limited amount of space.

Although it is only a 1,200-square-foot house, it works like a much larger home, with built-in amenities such as bookshelves, desks, and even bunk-beds for the children.

In the final 24 hours of work, Vila said that these details were installed, as well as plumbing, electrical fixtures, and appliances.

Written by Benita Green with graphic design by V.A. Burcop.
Copyright 1998, CBS Worldwide Inc., All Rights Reserved.

Sponsored in part by Louisiana-Pacific Corporation and the Partnership for Advancing Technology in Housing.


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