The Cobb Catholic Coalition is an amazing group of women and men who have been living out the Habitat for Humanity mission of putting God’s love into action by building homes, community and hope in partnership with the Northwest Metro Atlanta Habitat for Humanity since 1992.
They have built 39 homes with the support of the church communities of Holy Family, St. Catherine of Sienna, St. Clare of Assisi, St. Ann, St Joseph and Transfiguration. The members of these Catholic parishes have donated $1.7 million and more than 100,000 volunteer hours since the coalition was founded. The impact this group has had on the families whose homes they’ve built has changed lives for generations.
The seeds that grew into the Cobb Catholic Coalition were planted in 1989. Bob Brambilla, who was serving as the chairman of the site selection committee for the Habitat Affiliate, was contacted by the O.C. Hubert Foundation about the possible donation of six houses sitting on three acres in Marietta.
Three of the houses were soon to be demolished. The other three were leased and occupied, but in horrible condition. Bob contacted Gary Shirley and his friend Dan Shea. Gary and Dan had volunteered and led several projects for Habitat in the past. Because Habitat had never worked on a project of this magnitude they wanted these men to evaluate its’ feasibility. After some careful study and evaluation the decision was made to move forward.
It was at that point Gary and Dan reached out to their and other Catholic parishes in Cobb County. Both men were amazed by the support they received. So many members of St Catherine of Siena, St Ann, Holy Family, Transfiguration and St Thomas the Apostle were generous with their financial support and worked many volunteer hours on site.
The work began in June of 1993. They were many challenges and obstacles to overcome as the project progressed. Thanks to the support of Joe Mack Wilson, Mayor of Marietta, and the city staff the project was approved. The six homes were dedicated in October of 1993.
So many members of the church communities became engaged and committed to the project they wanted to find a way to build a long term relationship with Habitat. Gary and Dan “passed the baton” first to Joe Loviska who led the coalition for several years and eventually to Mike Christian, the current chairman. Jo Ann Green, Randy Hinton, Kevin Dunn, Jim Nee, Susan Williams, John Delves and Larry Prescott complete the leadership of this generous and amazing volunteers. When Mike was asked why he has been so involved with the coalition for so long he made this comment,
“Of course the Habitat mission is important and seeing the impact on another person’s life is powerful, but what keeps us coming back is the people who serve with us. When you’re on a build site you get to meet and work with really good people with really good hearts. It doesn’t matter if you’re a brain surgeon or a car salesman, we’re all the same and nothing matters more than getting a house built for a deserving family. In short, it’s a joy to see people and to work side by side with them.”
Since 2007 the Cobb Catholic Coalition has been funding and building two houses every year and actually built three in 2009. And this fall they will again build two new homes for deserving families.
On Saturday, November 19, 2016 the coalition dedicated their 38th and 39th homes. They were built for the Lawson and Black families and are located on Lee Road in Mableton, Georgia.
Home dedications are always beautiful ceremonies at which the families, sponsors, volunteers and Habitat staff celebrate the hard work, sweat, joy and relationships they have been blessed to share.
On this sunny but chilly Saturday a special guest, The Most Reverend Wilton D. Gregory, Archbishop of the Diocese of Atlanta, was on hand to bless the new homes and join in the celebration. The Archbishop thoroughly enjoyed the love and fun that was shared with the Lawson and Black families and all those who had helped build their homes.
The prayer from the Habitat team is that God will continue to bless the work of their hands and hearts as the members of this wonderful group generously continue the work of helping build strength, stability, self-reliance and a hand up to families throughout the northwest metro Atlanta area.