Habitat welcomes Hellard family into Veteran Build program

Group to hold organizational meeting March 25
March 20, 2013
Mari Ellyn Hellard stands with sons Joshua, age 14, and Joseph, age 7. The Hellards will partner with Sussex County Habitat for Humanity in a Veteran Build project. SOURCE SUBMITTED

Sussex County Habitat for Humanity has announced that the Veteran Build Habitat home at 105 Wingate Drive in Georgetown Point will be built for Mari Ellyn Hellard, a disabled U.S. Air Force veteran and single mother of two boys, Joseph, age 7, and Joshua, age 14.

Hellard is currently in a rental situation that will cause her to be homeless in the future, and the rental is in foreclosure.  She hails from Sussex County originally and wanted to be able to find affordable housing to remain near her family and her work in the Ocean View/Bethany area. She discovered Habitat while reaching out to volunteer on the future Veteran Build home she read about in the local paper, only to realize that SCHFH was seeking not only volunteers, but applicants.

Hellard said, “I told my boys, that’s going to be our house!” She is active in her church and recently returned from a mission trip to assist an orphanage in Belize.  Hellard and her two sons are excited about partnering with SCHFH to build their home, and all three of them are committed to the project.

Every Habitat family approved by the board of directors celebrates a special signing ceremony and has a picture taken that will be displayed in the main office among all current Habitat families active in the program. During the ceremony, Executive Director Kevin Gilmore introduces the new partner family to the Habitat staff and explains what it really means to be a home owner in progress.  Each adult in the family receives a yellow T-shirt to wear on the job sites so other volunteers can recognize them and begin to get to know them; the T-shirts have a Homeowners in Progress logo.

Community Engagement Director Tom Protack said, “This simple ceremony is a celebration of being accepted into the program after a long application process; it is the start of an amazing journey that will change their lives forever. Statistics show that children, once they are in Habitat homes, are healthier, do much better in school and are at a lower risk of getting involved in trouble because they now have their own room and space to call home. Not to mention the benefit to the greater community because Habitat families have attended homeowner classes to prepare them to be good neighbors, taxpayers and community supporters.”

Mike Nally, a former Army Ranger, volunteered to oversee the Veteran Build project.  He said, “We need a lot of help and hands, not only to build the house, but also to raise $100,000 over the project's timeline. In addition, we need to recruit more volunteers, schedule build days, plan fundraisers, reach out to all of our local veterans groups and associations, churches, etc. There is a place for everyone to become part of this amazing project to make homeownership real for one of our veterans.”

For more information regarding how to donate, volunteer, share gifts and talents, and to meet Hellard and her family, another organizational meeting will be held at 6 p.m. Monday, March 25, at the University of Delaware Carvel Research and Education Center at 16483 County Seat Highway, Georgetown. Anyone is welcome to attend.  Contact Mike Nally via email at or call him directly at 302-841-7770.

At 10 a.m., Thursday, March 28, Sussex County Habitat for Humanity will celebrate the Project Blessing on site of this veteran home with Sen. Tom Carper, Navy veteran, and the Hellard family. All are welcome.

Sussex County Habitat for Humanity brings people together to build homes, communities and hope. To learn more, call 302-855-1153, check out or like on Facebook.

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