“A Family Needs a Home in Which to Live and Prosper”

President Sasser, Jane Parkin, Justin MacDougall and Fred Hart today celebrated the completion of the Santa Fe 1 — the first house built by our students for a low-income family. (Click the photo for a gallery.)

The house was built in the construction bay of O Building, but is now located in the Breezy Acres neighborhood in southeast Gainesville. Today’s event saw all the community partners, incuding the city and Alachua Habitat for Humanity, coming together for a ribbon cutting ceremony with the new homeowner.

Dr. Sasser was credited with getting the ball rolling on the project, and he, in turn, credited Chuck Perry, the namesake of our Charles R. Perry Construction Institute (O Building), as having the vision to imagine the construction community coming together to do good.

“This project would never have gotten off the ground without Dr. Jackson Sasser’s creativity, cultivation, and concern for the community,” said Scott Winzeler, Executive Director, Alachua Habitat for Humanity.

Our instructors and hundreds of our Construction and Technical students had a hand in building the energy efficient, three bedroom, two bath, 1,250-square-foot home. A Habitat family contributed more than 400 hours of sweat equity and a cash down payment to buy the home via a 30-year mortgage financed by Habitat.

The community partnership extended to Publix Charities, which donated $20,000 to Habitat for the house, and M.M. Parrish Realty, which also made a sizable donation, and to Perry Construction and members of the Builders Association of North Central Florida (BANCF), who provided materials and services at low cost or for free.

Planning for the project began in January 2007. The city owned the lot and provided $46,500 to Santa Fe to build the house. The city paid to move it to the lot, and then Habitat bought the house from the city. The property is currently valued at $77,000.

City Commissioner Scherwin Henry showed his appreciation: “Thank you so much for everything you’ve done to bring this dream to reality, giving this family the opportunity to live part of the American dream.”

Winzeler credited Jane Parkin, Director, Construction and Technical Programs, with being the calm center at the “administrative vortex” between the three agencies and their differing opinions on how the house should be built: “Jane sat in the center of all these expectations and handled the demands with aplomb and good will.”

Jane mentioned in her remarks that the house has many sustainable qualities, including a metal roof that will last through this generation and “many more generations to come.”

Apprenticeship Coordinator Justin MacDougall thanked the contractors who helped with the finish work and said the house provided apprentices who do mostly commercial work the opportunity to work on a residential project.

Professor Fred Hart has taught construction for Santa Fe for 28 years, and for 20 of those years, he’s guided his students in work on Habitat houses. He said this was a terrific opportunity for his Construction Management students and the Student Builders club.

Annette Cornwell, President, Master Trades Committee of Apprenticeship Programs for BANCF, which is “500 companies strong,” said she was honored to represent a group of men and women who believe their success can only come with the success of the community.

And finally, the event wrapped up with Tom Machnik, President of Habitat’s board of directors, who said, “I’m proud to be associated with the project. All I can say is, ‘let’s do it again!'”

~ Julie Garrett, Media Relations Coordinator