Labor of Love helps repair family homes
Monitor Staff Reports
SEVEN POINTS–Labor of Love helps fix things, the Cedar Creek Lake Kiwanis heard Wednesday.
A faith-based service organization, Labor of Love provides free needed home repairs for the elderly, single mothers, grandmothers raising grandchildren and handicapped individuals.
Now in its 20th year, Labor of Love still remains a fairly well-kept secret, organization president Roy Talbot told Kiwanis members at their weekly luncheon.
Most of the time, the families helped by Labor of Love are referred to the organization by churches, social services groups (such as area food pantries) or individuals.
Founded in 1986 by a group from the First Christian Church of Athens, and joined by the First Presbyterian Church, the First United Methodist Church and the First Baptist Church soon afterward, the Labor of Love organization aided 166 families across the county last year.
About 60 regular volunteers help build wheelchair ramps, fix windows and do other routine building maintenance tasks that have been neglected because of the cost, or the homeowner’s inability to physically handle the repair, Talbot explained.
“We average building two wheelchair ramps a month,” he said. “We try to focus on health and safety issues.”
Projects could include installing “grab bars” in showers or near tubs, or be more seasonal, such as helping provide heating in the winter or air-conditioning in the summer.
Volunteers have a wide range of backgrounds, but none are skilled tradesmen by profession. “Our training is a lifetime of ‘honey-do’ tasks on weekends,” Talbot said.
Sometimes, the needed fix has been neglected or delayed to the point where it’s no longer a minor repair, and at those times, professional tradesmen are hired, he said.
There are only two hard-and-fast rules – the family being helped must own the home (“We don’t work on rentals,” he said) and they must live in Henderson County.
Labor of Love is partly funded through the Henderson County United Way organization, which means work can’t be done on homes outside the county, he explained.
A third rule, economic need, “isn’t clearly defined,” Talbot said. “But, usually, when you go to the home, it’s obvious. Just the condition of the home tells you that.”
In addition to United Way funding, Labor of Love obtains funding from the Ginger Murchison Foundation and the Cain Foundation, as well as donations from county churches, along with businesses and individuals.
Talbot said he wanted to recruit more volunteers from the Cedar Creek Lake area, as “80 to 85 percent” of the current volunteers are from Athens.
“More than two-thirds of our projects are in the Cedar Creek Lake area,” he said. “As president, I’m desperately trying to recruit people from this end of the county.”
The organization also desperately needs project managers, Talbot said.
“Last month, we had 21 projects, and I had to assign those across 12 managers,” he said.
For more information about Labor of Love, call (903) 675-LOVE (5683) and leave a message.

Habitat for Humanity seeks second family
Special to The Monitor
MABANK–Cedar Creek Habitat for Humanity is now seeking a family for whom to build the second home in the lake area.
“Our fund raising efforts are on track, but we are having trouble getting the word out to families who might qualify to purchase the home,” president of the local affiliate Ron Close said.
Habitat for Humanity is a Christian housing ministry financed through private donations and utilizing volunteer labor.
“Our purpose is to build and sell homes at no profit and no interest to families who could not otherwise afford to own a home,” chair of the group’s development committee Judge Ron Chapman said.
A family will qualify for the purchase of a Habitat home based on three criteria,
• The family’s actual housing need based on the suitability of their current shelter and ability to gain adequate shelter through conventional means.
• The family’s current income and ability to pay for the Habitat home.
• The family’s willingness to participate as a “Partner” with the volunteer’s and leaders of our local program.
A family will be considered for a Habitat home if their present housing is not adequate, and if they are unable to obtain adequate housing through other conventional means.
Lack of adequate housing may include problems with the present structure like water, electrical or sewer service systems; heating and cooling systems; failure to meet city property maintenance standards.
Also taken into consideration are the number, the ages and the sexes of children compared to the number of bedrooms in their current home.
The percentage of monthly income currently spent on housing is also considered to determine need.
A family will be required to openly and fully discuss their financial situation.
The family must have lived in Kaufman or Henderson counties for at least the past twelve months.
The family’s income is another factor in qualifying to purchase a Habitat for Humanity home, according to the chair of the Family Selection Committee, the Reverend Eston Williams, pastor of Aley United Methodist Church.
“The family cannot make more than 50 percent of the county’s median income,” Williams said.
“They must also make enough to be able to pay the mortgage payments on their new Habitat home,” he added.
The qualifying numbers are based on the number of people in the family, as explained in the following chart.
Ability to Pay
Since the family will actually be buying the home from Habitat, they must demonstrate their ability to pay the monthly mortgage payment, property taxes and insurance. Personal debt must not be excessive and there must be no liens or legal judgments outstanding. The family will need to provide information regarding their payment history of other obligations so that a consistent payment history can be verified.
Willingness to Participate as a Partner
When selected, the family will become a “partner family” in the Habitat movement.
“Partner families” share in the program by completing 300 hours of volunteer work with Habitat.
This is considered “sweat equity” in their new home and must be completed before moving in.
The family’s assistance in constructing their new home and/or the homes of others may include clearing the lot, painting, helping with construction, providing food for volunteers or doing other work with the Habitat program.
Families can receive credit up to 100 hours by applying time donated on their behalf by their friends and relatives who join in the work.
If you know a family who might qualify, or if you believe your family might qualify, please call the Cedar Creek Habitat for Humanity and request information.
“Call (903) 451-5055 and give us your name and address. Information and application will be mailed to you,” Ron Close said.