We’re celebrating our Silver Anniversary! We will be organizing a few special events where you can show your support for Habitat NOVA, help us raise funds to purchase more land for future projects and have some fun! The celebration will culminate with a major event in 2016.
A Look Back Over 25 Years:
Jimmy Carter Work Project
In 1992, dozens of our volunteers from Northern Virginia joined hundreds of others to help build 10 affordable homes in Washington, D.C., as part of the Jimmy Carter Work Project. That same year, Habitat NOVA broke ground on its first new home. Pictured (left to right): Jon Swanson, Rosalynn Carter, Gerry Owens, President Jimmy Carter and Marci Swanson.
On July 12, 1992, Habitat NOVA held a groundbreaking ceremony for our first new home build on Seaton Street in the Gum Springs neighborhood of Fairfax County, just south of Alexandria. The future homeowner, a single mother of two daughters and a nephew, turned the first shovel of dirt for the home. The three-bedroom home used the same plans as those of 10 houses built in Washington, DC, as part of the Jimmy Carter Work Project. Completed by that fall, the home cost $44/sq. ft. to build versus the typical cost of $100 sq./ft. for new homes in our area at the time.
The Resolve to Rebuild
One of Habitat NOVA’s earliest homes exemplifies the spirit of community and perseverance. On the evening of July 28, 1996, a little more than two months after Habitat NOVA broke ground on 710 N. Patrick St., in Old Town Alexandria, a fire destroyed the home. Believed to have been set deliberately, the fire also damaged two neighboring homes. The following evening, more than 100 supporters including then Mayor Kerry Donley and then Congressman James Moran, gathered for a prayer service on the charred site. Soon thereafter, rebuilding began.
“It was amazing to see the resolve and commitment demonstrated not only by the volunteers, but by members of the Alexandria community,” wrote Ken Naser, of the Blessed Sacrament Catholic Community, the home’s sponsor, in a Habitat NOVA newsletter article. Former councilman and current Mayor Bill Euille donated the studs needed to rebuild, while Donley and the residents of Fox Chase Apartments designated proceeds from Fox Chase’s block party that year to the rebuilding effort. “It’s a great feeling to see your dream coming to life,” said Gerald, the homeowner.
Thanks to the hard work of our volunteers, Habitat NOVA dedicated the home on October 6, 1996. People magazine ran an inspiring feature article just before the dedication.
In the late 1990s, Jon Deike, our construction director at the time, brought together a group of regular construction volunteers to help organize the work of other volunteers on the jobsite. Now in its third decade, The Sandlot Gang is still going strong. Its name calls to mind the days when kids organized baseball games in empty lots. The first group of volunteers comprised men and women ranging in ages from 16 to 57. Today, there are 60 registered members of The Sandlot Gang. They volunteer at least two days per month, as a member, Crew Leader or House Leader.
Want to see more Habitat NOVA highlights from the past 25 years? Check out the Habitat NOVA 25th Anniversary Timeline.