The groundbreaking ceremony for The House that Bel Air Built, at 404 Giles Street, took place recently before a crowd of elected officials, sponsors, volunteers and staff.
The House That Bel Air Built is a project sponsored by the Harford County Government, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Town of Bel Air, the Bel Air Downtown Alliance and Harford Mutual Insurance Companies. Many local businesses and individuals are also lending their support by volunteering, and by donating food and supplies.
The groundbreaking ceremony featured words of welcome from Karen Blandford, Habitat's Executive Director; Deacon Vic Petrosino of St. Margaret Church; Beth Hendrix, director of the Department of Community Services; Councilman "Cap'n" Jim McMahan; Bel Air Mayor Eddie Hopkins; Scott Walker, executive director of the Bel Air Downtown Alliance; and Steven Linkous, CEO and President of Harford Mutual and Habitat Board President.
"When you talk about Bel Air, you hear about it as a community," said Mayor Hopkins as he expressed his particular fondness for this project. His aunt and uncle once owned the property, and the mayor spent many childhood years in a home just two lots away.
Scott Walker took the time to recognize and thank the Bel Air community for their efforts, stating "This house is built by you, the volunteers, neighbors and future neighbors. Thank you, Crouse Family. Thank you for becoming our neighbors."
Together, to the sound of applause, the sponsors all dug their shovels into the ground for the first time, marking the bright beginning of a new life for the Crouse Family.
The construction will continue through May. Sponsorships and volunteer opportunities are still available. For more information, go to http://www.habitatsusq.org/belairbuild.
Roger and Holly Crouse are Harford County natives who, for years, have tried unsuccessfully to find affordable housing for themselves and their children. In 2012, they were accepted into Habitat's homeownership program, which enables low-income families to purchase decent homes for a no-interest mortgage. Partner families must also contribute a minimum of 500 sweat equity hours into the building of their own home and the homes of other partner families.
"Habitat is going to completely change our lives," Holly expressed. If I could get together with all of the volunteers and everyone involved in our journey, I would tell them thank you! We will never forget every hour they will spend building our home. The fingerprints that they leave behind will always be within our walls. Our home will stand because of them."