TEMPLE — About 170 people from across Bell County gathered at the Frank W. Mayborn Civic & Convention Center in Temple on Friday for the first-ever Fort Hood Area Habitat for Humanity gala in celebration of 25 years of community service.
Guest were treated to an evening of gourmet food, live performances by Karar International Dance Academy, and a silent auction.
Opening remarks we given by District 54 state Rep. Brad Buckley, who discussed some of the accomplishments and programs that allow Fort Hood Area Habitat to operate as well as his pride in what the organization brings to his district.
“Fort Hood Area Habitat is an organization that is recognized for its achievement, excellence, integrity, and honesty,” Buckley said. “It embodies what is special and good about our community in our great state.”
Habitat partners with low- and moderate-income individuals in Bell County to build or improve their home. Contractors build alongside volunteers and homeowners, the homeowners then pay a mortgage. Since its founding in March of 1994, Fort Hood Area Habitat has built 90 new homes and are working on 26 more in Temple. The organization has also assisted partnered with material, small projects, cleanup efforts to recycle used paint for area beautification projects such as removing graffiti.
The event honored the City of Temple with the Government Funding Partner award. Temple donated 30 percent of the cost of infrastructure and waived all permit and park fees for the Crossley Veterans Community in Temple — a $1.6 million project that has been recognized by Habitat International and replicated in areas around the United States.
Temple Mayor Pro Tem Judy Morales accepted the award on behalf of the city of Temple.
“Temple is very proud to a partner in this effort.” Said Morales, “We will do whatever we can to make this a great place for our citizens to live, play and enjoy.”
Ellis Air Systems was also recognized with the Engaged Community Partner award for their approximately $70,000 in contributions to Fort Hood Area Habitat since 2016.
“We have grown up and lived in this community, we have ties to the military through our grandfather.” said Preston Ellis, Chief Financial Officer for Ellis Air Systems, “So we want to do our best to give back to it, because a home is not a home if it’s not comfortable.”
Ken Cates, CEO for Fort Hood Area Habitat for Humanity, also made an announcement about the organization’s first high school-level chapter.
“We have a plaque here recognizing the inaugural year of Harker Heights High School’s Habitat for Humanity campus chapter, and it’s the first in Central Texas. The next closest high school level chapter is south of Austin,” Cates said.
Since Cates took over as CEO of Habitat in 2016, the program has seen an increase of about 1000 percent with regard to homebuilding and funding. Cates attributed the success to a “leap of faith.”
“When I came on board, we had no local contributors. And we are not federally funded. But we just started building and showing that we were impacting the community,” Cates said.
“That allowed us to start to reach out for resources which allows us to do these fundraising events and everything. Because that is where our funding comes from to allow us to accomplish what we do.”