Habitat seeks helping hands in Hurlock properties

HURLOCK — Do you live in North Dorchester? Looking to volunteer? Habitat for Humanity Choptank needs you in Hurlock, no experience necessary. A group of three to five people can really get a project off the ground.

Earlier this month, Habitat Choptank celebrated the sale of its 72nd home in Talbot and Dorchester counties. Since 1992, the nonprofit has provided mortgage financing to hard-working, lower-income individuals or families who cannot qualify for conventional financing. Following a screening process, approved homebuyers must maintain savings and put 300 hours of sweat equity into their homes or other projects.

Executive Director Nancy Andrew has hopes for Habitat in Hurlock. A home on Charles Street is among six open Habitat projects. The other five are in Cambridge and Easton.

Habitat Choptank owns three more vacant properties on Jackson Street in Hurlock. Ms. Andrew said she hopes to see Habitat build one home per year on Jackson Street.

“The first house we’re building (in Hurlock) is on a lot the town donated to us which is very generous,” Ms. Andrew said of the Charles Street project.

Crews are finishing the three-bedroom, one-bathroom home for Tynita Cummings, who currently lives in Hurlock and works for Caroline County Social Services. Kitchen cabinets are in, light fixtures and the heating and cooling system are being installed. Everyone is working at a pace to have Ms. Cummings in her home by the end of June.

A group of volunteers from Hurlock Elementary School helped construct the house.

“The principal at the elementary school (Linda Wilson) has been great. Volunteers from the school staff come out once a month to volunteer with us,” Ms. Andrew said. “That’s a lot to sustain, but they do. Even through the summertime, when school is closed, they’ve been coming out. And what Linda says is that they have a really great time.”

Tynita Cummings is working, too. She is close to finishing her 300 hours of sweat equity, and nearing her savings goals to qualify for a mortgage.

Ms. Cummings, “was doing her job to help other people,” when she first established her relationship with Habitat Choptank, Ms. Andrew said. Ms. Cummings was at an outreach event for Caroline County Social Services. Pat Ingram, who works in outreach for Habitat Choptank, was at the same event. Ms. Andrew would like to make similar connections in Hurlock and the surrounding area.

While the Charles Street home has, “come along great,” Ms. Andrew said, “we’ve relied on our Easton volunteers. We’re at the point that we need them back in Easton.”

Ms. Andrew refers to her crews based on their primary work location. Her Easton crew comes mostly from Talbot County, including Tilghman Island and Trappe.

“The traditional way that we go about it, in every community, we have a crew of weekday volunteers,” Ms. Andrew said. “We need like three or four people.”

In Cambridge, a corps of about three local volunteers work once a week in the city. They are supported by building experts who are willing to guide and train the folks who are less experienced in home building and power tool use. A couple people from Queen Anne’s and Talbot counties frequently trek to Cambridge to help. Everyone gets to take a break, go on vacation, etc.

“Our Cambridge crew is Cambridge people,” Ms. Andrew said. “They don’t need to be experts. What it takes for these crews to be successful is they like one another. That’s what really got us going in Cambridge.”

Ms. Andrew is hoping to establish a similar model in Hurlock. She is looking for volunteers who can commit to working once a week and the first Saturday of each month.

For more information about Habitat Choptank, to volunteer or make a donation, call 410-476-3204 or visit www.HabitatChoptank.org.

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