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Lowe's grant finances half of Habitat home

Conyers/Rockdale Habitat for Humanity volunteers, from left, Gene Hall, John Harper and Johnny Lanford confer on plans for a house being built in part with grant funds from Lowe's.

Conyers/Rockdale Habitat for Humanity volunteers, from left, Gene Hall, John Harper and Johnny Lanford confer on plans for a house being built in part with grant funds from Lowe's.

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Conyers/Rockdale Habitat for Humanity workers, including from left, contractor Marshall Thompson, and volunteers Tony Martin, John Ubriaco and Matthew Ubriaco, make some headway on the completion of the home.

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Lowe's of Conyers Manager Kevin Cole stands with Conyers/Rockdale Habitat for Humanity home recipient Sundra Peeples at the site where her house will be built. Half of the construction cost of the house is being paid for by a grant from Lowe's.

Persistence paid off for the Conyers/Rockdale County Habitat for Humanity.

The nonprofit, which helps provide affordable housing for low-income families, procured a $30,000 grant from the Lowe's home improvement company recently, a grant they failed to obtain when they first applied for it in 2008.

The funds include $24,000 in Lowe's store credit, and $6,000 in cash for materials and services that Lowe's doesn't offer.

The grant will finance about half of the construction cost of a house being built in Olde Town Village, a Conyers/Rockdale Habitat for Humanity subdivision located just off Lakeview Drive. The home is the second one built so far out of a planned community of 32 residences.

The grant represents one of 11 awarded by Lowe's nationwide in 2011 for a Habitat project. Conyers/Rockdale Habitat for Humanity President Marget Hall said the grant helps out tremendously.

"We're particularly honored that as small as we are we were able to receive that," said Hall.

Established in 1990, Conyers/Rockdale Habitat has constructed nine houses in Rockdale County and Conyers. Construction of houses is financed through funds raised from the sale of home improvement materials at the Habitat's surplus store, at 1117 West Ave., and through in-kind donations.

Habitat operates solely on volunteer labor, with community members donating their time to build the houses on Saturdays, operate the store and run the organization.

Candidates applying for a Habitat home must live in Rockdale County, be within a certain income bracket and live in unsafe housing conditions, among other requirements. A homeowner chosen to occupy a Habitat home must contribute 200 hours of labor to the project.

Houses are sold to homeowners at cost and payments are interest-free. The highest house payment for a Conyers/Rockdale Habitat home is roughly $500 a month, including taxes and insurance.

"That's a wonderful deal," Hall said.

The house financed by the Lowe's grant is a four-bedroom, two-bathroom home designed to serve a single parent and her six children. Work on the home began in December and is expected to be completed in the summer.

Lowe's has provided funds and volunteer labor to Habitat for Humanity organizations nationwide since 2003, and in 2009 the company made a five-year, $20 million pledge to Habitat, $1.5 million of which was grant money, according to www.lowes.com.

Lowe's of Conyers Manager Kevin Cole aided Conyers/Rockdale Habitat in obtaining the local grant. In a conversation with Hall to discuss Lowe's employee volunteer opportunities with Conyers/Rockdale Habitat, he learned of the group's first attempt at the grant application and suggested they try a second time.

When the nonprofit submitted the grant, Cole included notations that the Conyers Lowe's was building a relationship with the local Habitat group.

Gene Hall, the former president of Conyers/Rockdale Habitat, said Cole played an important role in the group being awarded the grant.

"He was instrumental in his encouragement to make the application again," Hall said.

A Covington resident who has worked for Lowe's for 14 years, Cole has also helped local schools procure $5,000 Lowe's education grants for various projects including the renovation of Salem High School's Career Center last February and the construction of a greenhouse for Sims Elementary School in July.

"I always like to be able to give back to the community and I enjoy helping," Cole said.

To learn more about the Conyers/Rockdale Habitat for Humanity or volunteer opportunities, visit www.habitatrockdale.com.