Islamic Society and Interfaith Group Celebrate the Completion of new Home for the Sheppard Family

Greater Springfield Habitat for Humanity (GSHFH) and the Holyoke Circle of Faith held a dedication ceremony & celebration on Sunday, November 18, 2012. This dedication welcomed Marque & Cawanna Sheppard and their children into a new home on 359 Chestnut Street, Holyoke, MA.

The six members of the Sheppard family began their dream journey towards home ownership almost 2 years ago. After a rigorous screening process, they proudly became a Greater Springfield Habitat for Humanity (GSHFH) Partner Family. For the Sheppard’s, and all Habitat families nationwide, this means that they have been approved for a zero-interest 30-year mortgage through Habitat for Humanity and that fundraising efforts & their own sweat equity will figure in as part of the deal. Construction on their new home on359 Chestnut StreetinHolyokebegan on October 23, 2010, with active building beginning in early summer 2011. In September disaster struck, a major apartment fire left the family between homes. This event triggered a frenzy of activity from raising money to finishing walls in order to bring this family the safety and security of a new home.

In Marque Sheppards’ words, “We are so grateful that we were picked for the house in Holyoke. Finally, we as a family will feel much safer in a house.”

The major sponsors of this project, a group of local faith communities, which we’ve coined the Holyoke “Circle of Faith” had been meeting for almost 6 months prior to breaking ground to plan the build with Habitat. The new home has been built by volunteers from the Holyoke “Circle of Faith” – local faith congregations – including First Congregational “Center Church” (South Hadley), Marian Center/ Daughters of the Heart of Mary (Holyoke), Islamic Society of Western Mass (West Springfield), All Saints Episcopal (South Hadley), Church of the Atonement (Westfield), St Patrick’s (South Hadley), St Theresa’s (South Hadley) Stony Brook Community (South Hadley), Church of Christ UCC (Granby), Faith United Methodist (Chicopee) and Center Church UCC (South Hadley). These congregations have raised 90% of the funds needed and provided hundreds of volunteers to build the home with Habitat’s support and leadership.

In response to this urgent need, GSHFH launched its One Hundred for 100 campaign, with the goal that one hundred businesses and/or individuals would donate $100 each, completing the $10,000 funding gap. “Many generous sponsors have stepped up, included Meyers Brothers Kalicka, P.C., ES Sports and Steve Lewis Subaru, significantly reducing the funding gap. A few more donations and all the material costs will be covered.” said Jennifer Schimmel, Executive Director of GSHFH.