St. Barnabas Adults and Youth Group "Rock the Block"

Volunteers from St. Barnabas did their part to help Habitat for Humanity refresh and revitalize Cincinnati's Evanston neighborhood in a "Rock the Block" event. Adults and the Youth Group spent a day working vigorously at the houses of two Evanston homeowners, in the spirit of our church's mission as a "community of encouragement." Our sweat-equity efforts resulted in fresh paint jobs, new bush planting and mulching, yard cleanup and new handrails on front steps.

The event, which involved at least 350 volunteers along with Habitat staff, was the Cincinnati Habitat organization's contribution to a 20th-anniversary national day of service and remembrance on Sept. 11 in honor of the victims of the 2001 terrorist attacks on our country. Volunteers received T-shirts bearing the legend, "Always remember. Never forget."

Habitat's goal with this and prior Rock the Block events is to spruce up needy neighborhoods, engage with communities, and give volunteers an opportunity to serve others. It also helps give Habitat more visibility for its ongoing mission to build affordable housing that allows families to become first-time homeowners.

Prospective homeowners apply to Habitat for consideration. If accepted into the program, adults of those families are required to work 250 hours of "sweat equity" on their houses or in other tasks for Habitat, which qualifies as a down payment. The families then receive no-interest loans to buy the houses. Payments on those mortgages provide revenue that helps Habitat to build more homes.

As a nonprofit Christian housing ministry, Habitat relies heavily on financial and materials support from companies, foundations and individuals. Volunteer labor is an essential part of Habitat's operation in this country and overseas.