Habitat for Humanity is looking for more support

By: 
Monika Spaulding, Digital Editor
Approximately 20 people attended an emergency meeting called last Monday night for Washington County Habitat for Humanity.
Board President Kevin Burke opened the meeting welcoming all those in attendance for coming on such short notice. He said he was told by Habitat for Humanity International that Washington County had to show more of a commitment to the organization or they were going to disband the program immediately.
Burke said he prayed about it and decided to call an emergency meeting to see if they could get community support.
He explained that he took over the program two years ago, though he said Habitat has been in Washington County for 20 years.
“The last six years they were not a 5013c,” he said, adding that is one of the main things he worked on when he took over and the program is now a certified not-for-profit again.
He said the group took six to seven months to revamp things and re-establish the policy and procedures for the board and are ready to welcome more board members, volunteers, officers and donations.
“We have God behind us because we are doing God’s work,” he said. “We help people. We are at a point now where we have a lot against us. We need more board members.”
Burke said ideally the organization needs a 12 member board. They currently have six. 
“We need more involvement,” he said. “We need a vice president and a treasurer.”
He said the organization has two choices: go forward or dissolve.
Burke said if the organization dissolves, it will be a long process to get things going again.
He said his ideas and plans have not been well-received by several businesses in the community and he feels that has hurt the program and it’s momentum.
“It’s a barrier we are facing,” he said. “We don’t want it to die.”
Burke plans to keep his original goal, which is 30 over 5: building 30 houses in five years.
He said he had the funding in grant money to do this, but could not get community support to get it going.
“We want to build affordable houses for anyone, not just the disabled,” he said. 
He said the plans include building universal homes with two to three bedrooms. He added that building these homes would be a big thing for the community, including other businesses like banks and insurance companies.
Burke said ideally, Habitat for Humanity International likes for chapters to build at least one home a year. Washington County’s Habitat for Humanity has built three homes in 20 years.
“If we can’t prove we have support, they will shut us down tomorrow,” he said.
One person in attendance suggested they hold another meeting in January when it’s not the holidays and more people can attend. 
Burke said this meeting was not his idea, that Habitat for Humanity International gave him the deadline of Tuesday morning to show community support.
However, he did say with the six member board and 20 signatures of support, he felt it would be enough to show the organization that Washington County would support the program.
The group tentatively set the next meeting for Jan. 29 at 7 p.m. at the Salem Airport. At press time, there was no confirmation as to whether the group would continue or not.

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