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Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette Logo Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette


St. Martin’s hosts Wor. Habitat gala

(Oct. 29, 2015) Martin’s Church near Showell on Route 589, more than a hundred people gathered in masquerade masks, blacked-tied suits and flowing ball gowns during Habitat for Humanity of Worcester County’s 20th anniversary celebration on Friday.
Habitat Vice President Lauren Bunting, addressing the crowd from a podium inside the church, called it a great fit to hold the event at the church, which she said has a similar mission and vision.
“Our vision is a world where everyone has a decent place to live,” she said. “Our mission is seeking to put God’s love into action. Habitat for Humanity brings people together to build homes, community and hope.”
Bunting said Habitat gives people a “hand up – not a hand out.” The nonprofit has served an average of one family per year during the last two decades.
“A lot of people think Habitat gives people homes and that’s not the case at all,” she said. “Habitat homeowners are just that – they’re homeowners.”
Habitat clients have good credit, are employed and are required to attend homeownership education classes and complete 200 “sweat equity hours” helping to build the home in order to qualify, Bunting said.
 “How [a home] is made affordable for them is that Habitat gives them a no-interest loan, holds the note and we have a lot of donations in the construction of a home,” Bunting said. “That helps us keep the cost down.”
Marking the 20th anniversary of Habitat during its third annual gala, Bunting said, made it a special night.
“We’re very proud to announce that we were able to serve 20 families in 20 years,” she said, adding that area Habitat homes “stretched from Snow Hill to Whaleyville.”
She credited Executive Director Andrea Bowland in particular for her hard work during the last three years, and called on the people in the crowd to volunteer as skilled laborers, board members or fundraisers.
“We have a need for all of that,” she said.
Bowland, speaking next, thanked the “behind the scenes” members of Habitat as well as the 25 sponsors, including headline sponsor PNC Bank, which made the evening possible.
“Thank you for all of your supports,” she said. “We could not do this without everyone’s help.”
During the past three years, she said, Habitat placed three families in new homes. She also touted Cannery Village, an affordable housing complex in Berlin, and said Habitat’s next major project was a mixed-use space for artists in Berlin.
Sen. Jim Mathias (D-38) concluded the opening remarks and said those in attendance helped make “dreams come true.”
“When you hear about how Habitat has served 20 families in 20 years, it’s you that have done it,” he said. “I’m ever, ever grateful for that.
“The hope that you give folks every day … I’m grateful,” Mathias added. “This is really what it’s all about – a better tomorrow, hope and making dreams come true.”
Delaware native Nadjah Nicole, a contestant on NBC’s “The Voice” headlined the entertainment lineup and said she was more than happy to return after performing at the Habitat gala last year.
Playing with a five-piece band, she fronted a nearly hour-long set of classic rhythm and blues.
“I love it,” she said. “It feels good that people want to hear me, and when they have a good time it feels even better.”
Summing up the evening, Bowland said she was thrilled with the entire experience.
“I think the turnout was fabulous and everybody had a wonderful time,” she said. “It’s a great opportunity to be able to utilize the church, and with the special [opening] reception and all the performances – we’re very happy with how everything turned out.”
The best way for those who could not attend to help the nonprofit, she said, is by going to the Habitat for Humanity Worcester County website,, by emailing, or through Facebook.
“We are always looking for volunteers in various capacities,” she said. “We need board members, committee members and volunteers in general. We would welcome the support.”