Adams County Habitat for Humanity: Building Homes with Care

“We don’t have an office,” said Adams County Habitat for Humanity Chapter President, Bill Tyson. “Normally a habitat chapter has an office, a board of directors, and a construction manager, but we don’t have any of that. When we ask for money, we want to be able to say that 98 cents of every dollar goes directly into building houses.”

The lack of overhead in the Adams County chapter is a source of pride for the organization, which relies heavily on community volunteers driven by a strong sense of service.

“We are a small chapter, so we build about one or two homes per year. Since its creation, the chapter has built around 50 homes. None of this work would be possible without our community volunteers,” said Tyson.

“I spent 30 years in the Navy and when I retired, I wanted to continue working for the community. The Navy inculcates a sense of service. I saw an ad in the paper saying Habitat needed volunteers and it was everything I wanted. Twelve years later I am the president, working with people who all understand the mission is getting people in safe homes and giving them a community,” said Tyson.

The organization has been part of the county since 1986 when Karl Mattson, former Chaplain and Director of the Center for Public Service at Gettysburg College, founded the Gettysburg chapter.

Mattson had visited Nicaragua on a Habitat mission and determined to start a chapter at the college. The college group officially became a Habitat chapter in 1988. The Gettysburg Chapter was expanded to serve all of Adams County in 1989.

Habitat for Humanity is an international non-governmental, nonprofit organization founded in 1976. The organization works internationally to build and improve homes for those who need financial help. There are many chapters located in multiple locations across the 50 states.

When applying for a home with Habitat for Humanity, applicants first complete a thorough background and financial check, including debt and payment history. Habitat follows the USDA Federal Housing Administration guidelines by zip code when deciding who is eligible for housing. In Adams County, for a family of four, the annual income range allowed is roughly $30,000 – $70,000.

“When accepted, you must work 500 hours of sweat equity. In other words, you must contribute to a Habitat project in some way. Sweat equity is important because the homeowners learn valuable lessons about home-owning or finances that will set them up for long term success,” said Tyson.

Habitat builds houses all over Adams County. Most recently is the completion of a home on Marie Lane in Biglerville. A “blitz build” project is scheduled in October on Orrtanna Rd.

There are many ways to get involved with Habitat for Humanity. Cash donations are always welcome because they help the organization continue to be sustainable.

You can volunteer for a build project by contacting the Adams County chapter and visiting the organization’s Facebook page.

“Getting involved is not very complicated,” said Tyson, “We advertise our blitz build projects on our Facebook page and then whoever wants to volunteer can just show up with their tools on the indicated dates. We will provide snacks.”

Additionally, you can donate materials such as furniture and appliances to Habitat for Humanity ReStores. These stores resale used goods to the public at a fraction of retail price.

The nearest Habitat ReStores to Adams County are located at 433 Hahn Rd Westminster, MD 21157 and 1662 Lincoln Way East Chambersburg, PA 17202.

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My name is Zion Williams. I am from Glenn Dale, Maryland, but attended high school at Sidwell Friends School in Washington DC. I am a current sophomore at Gettysburg College pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Cinema and Media Studies with minors in Writing and Spanish. I am a member of the Gettysburg Men's Soccer Program.

Additionally, I work in the Gettysburg Special Projects Film/Television division, as well as the Gettysburg Athletic Communications Department. I am excited to connect with and learn more about the members of the Gettysburg community.

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