Habitat founder dedicates 1,000th home in Kentucky

By PEGGY FUKUNAGA State Journal Staff Writer Published:

Katheryn Pope, a petite brunette in a tan baseball cap and black jeans, was balanced precariously on the roof of a house off of Douglas Street last Friday after sunrise.

It was cool, about 60-degrees. There was a light ground fog and a sky full of wispy mare's tails clouds. She grabbed a shingle, pulled a nail from her carpenter's apron, raised her hammer, and hit the nail square.

Pope was not alone. About 40 volunteers moved around the shell of the house which would be the 1,000 Habitat of Humanity home built in Kentucky. Some were nailing shingles, others hanging sheet rock and installing light blue siding on the exterior.

They moved like bees in a hive. Everyone had a specific job. Seventy-two hours was not a lot of time to build a three-bedroom house for George and Betsy Bowen and their five grandchildren.

Pope, from Mount Vernon, said she had met people from all over the world building Habitat houses including lawyers, doctors and one college president. One time, she met a politician who was campaigning on the roof, while hammering. "We all have a common bond, a mission, to build these houses," Pope said.

This mission is the driving force behind the founders Habitat for Humanity, Millard and Linda Fuller, as well as the approximately 300 volunteers who help build the Bowen home.

When they lived on Koinonia Farm in Americus, Ga. in the late 1960s, Linda Fuller said the locals, often poor African-Americans, would ask if they could buy a "little land" to build a house. "No one would loan them money or sell them any land," she said.

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