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Habitat

Former Southern Midlands Realtors Association President Herb Bradley, right, presents the keys to 920 Berry Street to Habitat for Humanity Director Jamie Bozardt. The proceeds from the sale of the home will go toward the construction of a new Habitat home in August.

In an effort to divest its assets, the former Southern Midlands Association of Realtors presented a $155,000 check to the Edisto Habitat for Humanity toward the construction of a new Habitat home.

It is the largest single donation the outreach organization has received in its 25 years of existence.

“Unbelievable” and “God is good!” were among the comments expressed by HFH Board members upon the presentation of the $155,000 check.

SMAR, which merged with the Columbia-based Central Carolina Realtors Association last month, is in the process of dissolving and divesting its assets as a result of the merger.

“We work in the local community and we like to give back to our local community,” CCRA Board of Directors member Herb Bradley said. “Habitat helps people live the American dream to have their own home and we could not think of a better thing to do.”

The $155,000 consists of the assets of SMRA as well as the Multiple Listing Service of Orangeburg.

An emotional Jamie Bozardt, executive director of Edisto Habitat for Humanity, said when she became the director of Habitat 15 years ago she was told to not take the job because of the challenges of fundraising. When she took the job, Habitat had $1,500 in its bank account.

“The pressure was on,” Bozardt said. “What were we going to do?”

A couple of weeks later, one of her current board members informed her that a check was in the mail for $10,000.

Shortly after that, Habitat applied and received a grant for $20,000.

“This community I really have not had to ask for very much,” Bozardt said. “As a group, we have all planted the seeds for people to give.”

She says one individual has given $5,000 to Habitat each year for the past five years as a Christmas gift.

Bozardt thanked the Realtors group for helping better the Orangeburg community and the lives of those who need help.

“This is huge for us,” said Bozardt, adding the $155,000 alone will build nearly three houses.

Bozardt said the largest donation the organization has ever received is $55,000.

Bozardt said HFH’s executive committee has been discussing a possible project that will continue to help the community. She said donation would also help pursue this effort, though she declined providing immediate details on the project.

In addition to the check, the SMRA also donated its former office at 920 Berry St. to Habitat with its eventual sale proceeds to also go to Habitat for the construction of a new home on Kings Road in August.

Century 21 The Moore Group will be house’s sponsor.

HFH, with the Realtors’ assistance, will in turn sell the three-bedroom, one- bathroom house for $57,800.

Since its founding in 1991, the Edisto HFH has built 73 homes in the Orangeburg County area. The cost of a Habitat house ranges from $65,000 to $70,000, depending on the size of the residence.

The organization screens families to determine if there is a housing need and if a family has the ability to pay for a house. It takes an income of about $1,400 a month to be a successful homeowner.

The entire process, which includes homeowner and budgeting classes, takes about a year. Families who receive Habitat homes must put their own work into their homes. They are required to provide 350 hours of “sweat equity” toward the building of their residence and other Habitat homes.

Homes are financed for 25 years with no-interest loans. The homes are sold at no profit. Homeowners’ monthly mortgage payments are recycled through a revolving fund, which Habitat uses to build more houses.

Anyone who would like to help with the construction of the next new Habitat home is encouraged to send donations to: Edisto Habitat for Humanity Inc., P.O. Box 2489, Orangeburg, SC 29116 (make checks payable to: Edisto Habitat for Humanity).

For more information on how to donate, volunteer or participate, call Jamie Bozardt at 803-536-2300.

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Contact the writer: gzaleski@timesanddemocrat.com or 803-533-5551. Check out Zaleski on Twitter at @ZaleskiTD

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Staff Writer

Gene Zaleski is a reporter/staff writer with The Times and Democrat.

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