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Wayland's Habitat Project: Fundraising, Permitting and Striking the First Nail

You've seen the site of the new Habitat for Humanity project, but where does the project actually stand today?

The timeline has shifted slightly and there's still quite a lot of money to raise, but Wayland's Habitat for Humanity project on Stonebridge Road is alive and well.

Mary Antes is a member of the local project committee and has been involved with Wayland's Habitat for Humanity project from its early days. She explained that some unforeseen circumstances have led to a deviation from the original plan to break ground in April 2012 on a project that will eventually feature two duplexes -- or homes for four families.

"We’re still in the permitting process," Antes said. "Some of that is Wayland’s deliberate process; some of it is this is the biggest project this affiliate [Habitat for Humanity MetroWest/Greater Worcester] has ever done."

In addition, Antes said some health problems at the regional chapter level, including the death of the executive director after a battle with cancer, have stalled Wayland's project slightly.

“Things have not gone as smoothly as we would have hoped," Antes said, but, she added, volunteers are ready to take the next steps.

One important piece, Antes said, was Town Meeting's approval in April of this year to fund half of the $712,000 project, assuming that local fundraising can secure the other half.

That means that fundraising, both in the form of in-kind gifts and outright monetary support, must account for the remaining $356,000 of the project.

And before building can even begin, a full 30 percent of the total money must be in-hand.

Luckily, Antes said, some things have fallen into place to bring in that 30 percent.

Village Bank and Middlesex Savings Bank have each given $10,000 toward the project and the Bennett Family Foundation, as well as an anonymous donor, have each contributed another $5,000.

Antes said the group hopes the sale of foundation bricks will bring in a total of about $40,000.

Perhaps the most exciting fundraising news of late, however, is a Housing and Urban Development grant of $40,000 given to the Habitat chapter of which Wayland is a part. Antes said the chapter plans to put that money toward the Wayland project, which means it has the one-third of its budget that is required to break ground.

“The hope is that if December is not terrible weather-wise, to break ground then," Antes said, adding that the project goes before the Zoning Board of Appeals on Oct. 9 and will likely be back for a second meeting soon thereafter.

"The delay has reduced the momentum," Antes said. "If the ground had broken last spring, we’d have had the excitement from the Town Meeting vote and then gone right into fundraising. The fact that it seems to be dragging on forever and forever ... we need to generate enthusiasm for the project."

Even though the required one-third of the project dollars have been secured to break ground, Antes said the fundraising push necessarily must continue.

"I’d like to keep money coming in, so we never have a delay because we need money," she said. "I’m always told there is never any problem getting people to do the construction."

The construction itself, in fact, can even serve as a fundraiser as some companies will pay to work on the site for a day as a team-building exercise. In addition, possible in-kind gifts of roofing supplies from Dow Chemical, paint from Valspar and even plumbing and electrical work by Minuteman High School students would count toward the total project costs.

Still, actual cash donations are needed and a significant opportunity to give to the project will take place Oct. 20, as Russell's Garden Center hosts an evening of live music, wine and beer, heavy hors d’ouevres, and a raffle with all ticket sales benefiting Wayland's Habitat for Humanity project.

Antes said that anyone wanting to get involved in some aspect of the project is welcome to contact her for details.

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