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Congregation Shows Longtime Support for Needed Homes



DON CRINKLAW Forum Publishing Group

Published: 12:15 PM EST, February 21, 2014

A few Sundays ago, Kelley Jackson addressed the congregation at Fort Lauderdale’s FirstPresbyterian Church. His topic was the annual Habitat for Humanity Bike Ride, which is in needof both volunteers and donations.

“I sold it!” Jackson said of the enthusiastic response he received.

But the response should come as no surprise. Since 1983, more than 500 volunteers from First Presbyterian have helped to build affordable homes for families in need through Habitat for Humanity.

The charity ride, scheduled for Feb. 15, actually kicks off at the church in Southeast Fifth Avenue.

“We’re raising money to build a house for Habitat for Humanity,” she said. “This will be the 19th house [the congregation has] helped fund in our long relationship with Habitat for Humanity.” Jackson, a member of the church’s subcommittee for the effort, will be there for the charity ride as well — on his “mountain bike with the big old tires,” she said. Jackson said she’ll be going the full distance of the ridetoo — to Palm Beach.

Despite the church’s decades-long efforts with Habitat for Humanity, this is only the second year of thespecial home-building bike ride. In fact, the relationships goes even further back to 1976, said Habitat for Humanity board member Kathy Craven.

“The big push came in 1992,” said Craven, who is a member of the church’s congregation and chairwoman of its Habitat Steering Committee. “We raised money for victims of Hurricane Andrew and had money left over. We decided to start putting it into Habitat homes.

“We build throughout the county,” Craven said. “We’re not sure yet where the 19th house will be.”

For five years now, “the church hasn’t been what it used to be,” she said, “so last year we came up with the idea of a bike ride.” About 30 riders turned up, a lot of them church members. Some were people who routinely entered races and marathons, some were everyday people — age 70 down to children.

“We managed to raise $8,000,” Craven said.

Habitat is a well-oiled organization, with contractors and suppliers all in place, she said. “All we have to do is come up with the money.”

The second annual Habitat for Humanity Bike Ride will take place Feb. 15 at First Presbyterian Church, 401 SE 15th Ave. in Fort Lauderdale. Deadline for online registration is Feb. 13. Participants can register in person during from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Feb. 14 at the church’s Neumann Center.

For information, call Kathy Craven at 954-593-0423 or visit http://www.firstpres.cc/bikeride.asp.

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