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Habitat celebrates home; launches next big project

Habitat for Humanity has lots to celebrate this month.

On Sunday, the organization dedicated its newest house to the Alfred and Lillie Barnett family. Monday, it announced a grant that will fund 75 percent on a house in 2007.

"We thank God and Habitat for Humanity," Alfred Barnett said. "It's truly a blessing for me and my family."

The Barnetts, along with their five children, Ebony Barnett, Houston Moorman, Shanell Roberson, Dominique Barnett and Jasmine Roberson, moved into their new home just in time for Christmas.

When they applied for the Habitat house, Barnetts faced such conditions as a flooding basement, poor windows and a falling sheetrock ceiling. The new home is spacious and Houston, the only son, is especially happy for the extra space.

"I'm excited about the new house," he said. "I finally get my own room."

"Thanks to everyone (who made) this happen," agreed his sister, Ebony.

Alfred Barnett said he and his family plan to help Habitat with future houses.

"It was a pleasure working with all of you," Houston said.

Besides the satisfaction of helping their fifth family, Habitat for Humanity volunteers are excited for about a grant from Thrivent Financial for Lutherans.

The national organization will fund 65 percent of 2007's house, and the local chapter of Thrivent will provide 10 percent more.

Thrivent has dedicated $24.5 million nationwide to help build 355 homes in 43 states in 2007.

In Barnett's Union Street home, Habitat's president Barb Thomsen and Thrivent's Becker County representative Jim Langemo made the announcement that Detroit Lakes' Lakes Area Habitat received the grant.

"I don't have a check to give you, but I can assure you when you get ready to build (Thrivent will help)," Langemo said.

Thomsen said Habitat will need to raise the remaining 25 percent to help build the 2007 house. To help raise those funds, Habitat takes part in several annual events, including the Chef's Gala, surplus material auction and golf scramble.

"There is a great need in Detroit Lakes, as there is in all communities," she said.

There are three main areas of criteria for qualifying Habitat families -- a need due to overcrowding or physical condition of the home, sweat equity of 250 hours per adult, and the ability to pay back the loan for the home.

"We are not a charity organization but are a hand up and not a hand out," Executive Director Brian Smith said.

The Barnetts qualified under each category.

"Anytime we called them, they were here on the spot," Thomsen said of the Barnett family.

Habitat administers the house mortgage within Detroit Lakes, which is paid off by the Barnetts at a rate of 0 percent interest, saving the family some money.

Since 1998, Detroit Lakes Area Habitat for Humanity and the community have provided 18 people with five homes, and will now continue at a quicker rate with the help of Thrivent Financial for Lutherans.

For more information on Habitat for Humanity in Detroit Lakes, visit