At a time when many churches have had to cut back on charity endeavors, Habitat for Humanity of Hernando County is offering an inexpensive opportunity to help a family in need.
The organization's Apostles Build program is seeking 12 churches willing to participate in building a home for a single mother and her two children.
"I think in this economy, a lot of people realize there are a lot of people in need right now, and they're trying to do as much as they can to help locally," said Debbie Prescott, community resources director for the nonprofit, Christian housing ministry. "People don't have the money to go on overseas mission trips. This is something where they can help get out there and really do some mission work and not leave their back yard."
Prescott said that while Habitat has a lot of support from individual local churches, the aim of the Apostles Build project is for the churches to work together.
First United Methodist Church of Brooksville built a Habitat home about 10 years ago. In 2008, six local Lutheran churches participated in Thrivent Builds, with Thrivent Financial for Lutherans providing 65 percent of the cost of the house and church members providing the manpower for the construction.
The Thrivent project, in particular, did not go unnoticed.
"Marty Campbell, who is a (Habitat) board member, was one of the originators of the whole idea," Prescott said. "His church, First United Methodist of Spring Lake, saw what Thrivent had done and thought there should be a multi-church build that would welcome any denomination."
The result was the Apostles Build project.
The program will combine the churches' efforts to build the home, coordinating designated build days for their congregations. They will also support a fundraising event this summer at Weeki Wachee Springs State Park.
Several churches have already signed on: Nativity Lutheran Church of Weeki Wachee, First United Methodist Church of Brooksville, Ridge Manor Community United Methodist Church, Spring Lake United Methodist Church, Faith Presbyterian Church of Brooksville and Starting Pointe Church of Spring Hill.
Bill Yoos is wearing two hats for the build. He is working with Nativity Lutheran Church's outreach program and is also president of the board for Habitat.
"We've been trying to get more churches involved with Habitat for a while now," Yoos said. "It is a faith-based organization, and across the country, churches are a majority of Habitat support. The Apostles Build is an effort to get more churches involved."
Yoos said Habitat is hoping to get 12 churches on board because there were 12 apostles in the ministry of Jesus Christ.
"This is a good Christian outreach," he said, "helping people get into a house."
Yoos said members of his church are always looking for opportunities to do God's work and that they will help with funding as well as provide volunteers for the work.
The youth group from First Baptist Church of Brooksville will also participate.
"This is our first time partnering with Habitat," said Brian Brijbag, the church's youth pastor. "The Apostles Build project falls right in line with the mission of our student ministry, to 'Love Christ, Love Others, Follow Christ.' "
The students will be involved in several aspects of the build, including helping with the fundraiser by producing videos for marketing and supplying labor at the project.
Lisa Kyle, a Hernando County school bus driver, and her children, Todd and Jada, will be the recipients of the Apostles Build home. As with all Habitat homes, Kyle will contribute her own "sweat equity" to the house, which will be built in Tangerine Estates, off California Street south of Brooksville.
"There's an interest-free mortgage for the amount of expenditures on the homes Habitat builds, depending on what materials come to us in kind and what we purchased to build a home," Prescott said. "It's amortized for however long the homeowner needs it to be, up to 40 years. The payment can't be more than 30 percent of their monthly income."
Prescott said this will be the first Habitat home for which ground will be broken in Hernando this year. A home that was begun in November will be dedicated on June 26.
The organization builds an average of three homes per year. But this home has special meaning for Prescott.
"It has a feel of the television show Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, where there is a lot of community support," she said. "It has that climatic ending when everyone's so excited that this person is going to have such a wonderful gift handed to them.
"Because we've drawn so many facets of the community together, when we finally get to hand the keys to Lisa, I just think it will be that much more exciting and rewarding."