Open Hands and Hearts

PageIcon Open Hands and Hearts
Giving Back to Our Community…

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From Atlanta Building News – November, 2002

The Cherokee County chapter or the Greater Atlanta Home Builders Association (HBA) sponsored a flea market in July to help raise money for the Mount Zion Christian Church (Iglesia Cristiana Monte De Sion) in Canton. Steve McKenzie of TIH Homes Inc., former president of the Cherokee Chapter and active supporter of the facility, is enthusiastic about the project. He brought the need of the home building industry’s support for this church renovation and day laborer center to the Cherokee Chapter executive committee. “Residential as well as commercial development relies heavily on Hispanic labor,” says McKenzie. “They are hard workers and have been a crucial part of the communities we build. This is our chance to give something back.”

Pastor Salvador Gonzales who used to work with McKenzie, is managing the renovation and construction project and is pastor of the church. Gonzales has seen his goal to provide a place of worship expand into a facility where day laborers and their families can attend classes in English, writing and job skills. The chapter’s donation of $6,000 will help restore a former chicken processing plant into an expanded place of worship and a MUST Outreach and Training Center. Jaime Escomilla, director of MUST Outreach, is thrilled that his organization will be able to provide educational and occupational opportunities to the Hispanic community in Canton. “Our goal is to break the cycle of poverty,” explains Esomilla.

Both men received a lot of support from Canton Mayor Cecil Pruitt, who formed a council of concerned citizens to address the issues of the Hispanic community in Canton. It is on this council that Gonzales and Escomilla met, and they have continued to be instrumental in supporting the poor, the hungry and those in need in Cherokee County.

Tracey Quillen of Flag Bank and Renee’ McKenzie of TIH Homes are the community chairs for the chapter and helped organize the flea market to raise additional funds. Quillen shared her skill for face painting the day of the sale with some of the children. “working with the Cherokee Chapter Executive Committee, I’ve seen the chapter and the home builders association do a lot on behalf of home building industry, especially dealing with changing the anti-growth attitudes of the Cherokee commission. It was nice to pour our energy into such a worthy cause and show that the home building industry cares about the people in the community,” says Quillen.

Renee’ McKenzie was thrilled to help with the project as well. “It is really a special thing that we can give back to the community. The Hispanic community of Cherokee work so hard. They are a strong people of faith and they work really hard building homes and want to get ahead. This facility will give them a place of worship and a training center to improve their quality of life,” says Renee’ McKenzie.

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