Contact: Jenni Smith or Ellen Sterner
SMU News & Media Relations
(214) 768-7650
Diane Wolfe, Habitat for Humanity
metro (817) 577-1779

Feb. 13, 2003


DALLAS (SMU) -- Highland Park United Methodist Church has given a $5 million, 10-year commitment to sponsor 100 to Habitat for Humanity homes. In addition, the Park Cities church is sponsoring the first completed Habitat home in war-torn Afghanistan.

Habitat for Humanity International began exploring the emergency shelter needs and opportunities for Habitat home building in Afghanistan in February 2002. The result was an initiative in Northern Afghanistan that has since borne fruit in Salbarun Village in the Balhk Province, about two hours' travel time from Mazar-e-Sharif.

Since July, Habitat for Humanity International has worked with villagers to build 33 new homes, renovate four houses and repair 162 more, bringing all of the village's housing up to local standards. Highland Park UMC financed construction of one home and contributed partial funding for four more houses. Their gifts were the product of a conversation between Rev. Mark Craig, senior minister at HPUMC, and Habitat for Humanity Founder and President Millard Fuller.


Dallas Area Habitat for Humanity's 300th home, which will be built from Feb. 15 to March 1 on the campus of Southern Methodist University, is the 25th home underwritten by Highland Park United Methodist Church. The house will be relocated in Dallas after it is completed. SMU was chosen as the build location because of the university's ongoing involvement with Habitat. SMU has built three Habitat houses in Dallas, but hundreds of SMU students, faculty and staff members have worked on Habitat projects as individuals or through participation in campus organizations.

"Construction of the 300th house is an important milestone," said SMU President R. Gerald Turner. "Building it at SMU will help raise awareness of Habitat's contributions to the community and SMU's long-term support of their efforts. We are pleased to provide the temporary site for construction and to help provide another Habitat house for a Dallas family."

Highland Park United Methodist Church is the leading sponsor of Habitat homes in Dallas. Its 100-house pledge is the largest faith community commitment yet made to Habitat for Humanity International's More Than Houses campaign, which aims to bring to 200,000 the number of Habitat homes worldwide by the end of 2005.

To learn more about Habitat for Humanity's response to housing need in Afghanistan, visit the international website at Habitat for Humanity seeks a lasting solution to the worldwide need for affordable housing by building simple, decent homes with volunteer labor and donations of money and materials. Homes are sold at no profit. Partner families, as home buyers are known, invest hundreds of hours of sweat equity in the construction of their homes, working side by side with volunteers. Habitat for Humanity builds through 2,207 local affiliates in 97 countries, including 1,658 U.S. affiliates.