Now in its 25th year, Edisto Habitat for Humanity Inc. has completed a total of 75 homes for families in need in Orangeburg County.

Since it was established in 1991, the nonprofit Christian outreach housing organization has partnered with businesses, industries and countless organizations and volunteers to make the dream of homeownership a reality for those who might otherwise not have been able to attain that goal.

One of its partners, Cox Industries Inc., has helped build multiple Habitat homes over the years. Cox CEO Mikee Johnson has said the company is a firm believer that everyone "should have a healthy, affordable place to call home," which in turn will provide greater opportunities for families to help themselves.

"We believe our American society should step up to the challenges of its own people and not constantly rely on the government to be the solutions to these matters," Johnson said in a previous interview. "We believe the local Habitat affiliate, its leadership, volunteers, donors and, most importantly, its recipients represent all things that make our country the greatest nation the world has ever known."

He described Habitat homeowners as "some of the finest, most honorable people" in their desire to better their lives and the lives of their families that he has ever met.

Johnson said Cox is hopeful that its participation "encourages others in our community to recognize the value of our Habitat affiliate here in Orangeburg."

"We firmly believe they have positively changed hundreds of lives in our community today, but an untold amount in our community in the future. The multiplier effect on generations to come is absolutely breathtaking," he said.

Edisto Habitat for Humanity's partners also include Orangeburg's SI Group (formerly Albemarle), Century 21 The Moore Group and South State Bank, to name just a few.

Jamie Bozardt, Edisto Habitat executive director, said, "Our churches, civic organizations (such as Rotary) and individuals in our community have all been committed to helping families in Orangeburg have their dream of homeownership come true. We are grateful to so many and look forward to what the next 25 years hold for Edisto Habitat for Humanity and the wonderful community in which we all live."

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).

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