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Helping build a house of dreams

January 12, 2003

Deirdre Newman

Soap operas have been known to stretch the boundaries of human

credulity.

But for the Bellah family a soap opera storyline became a realty

and the catalyst for their receiving a brand new, technology-wired

house courtesy of Habitat for Humanity of Orange County and The

Orange County Technology Collective.

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After Romelia Bellah's daughter Charlene was born in 1999, she

began watching "Days of Our Lives". One of the storylines involved

Habitat for Humanity, a Christian-based national non-profit

organization that started in Orange County in 1998. The organization

builds homes for low-income families and usually requires the

recipients to work on the construction.

Romelia thought to herself, "why can't our family benefit from a

project like that?" The family, which lives in a mobile home in

Anaheim, applied to become eligible and was turned down the first

time. Undeterred, they persevered and on Saturday their soap opera

fantasy took the first tangible steps toward becoming a reality.

In the early morning hours, Michael Bellah donned his hard hat,

rolled up his sleeves and picked up a sledgehammer to begin the

arduous process of deconstructing what would eventually be his new

home. Joining him were about 70 other volunteers, whose hammers and

saws punctuated the air as deconstruction also started on new houses

for five other low-income families on the property on Pomona Street

in Costa Mesa.

The Habitat Technology Project is the first one in Orange County

that will include access to computers, the Internet and technology

training.

"It's not enough to put a family in an affordable house, you need

to get the kids to the next step of education," said Pete Major,

Habitat's executive director.

Habitat for Humanity got involved with the project when Costa Mesa

officials asked the organization for help with the blighted property,

which currently contains three two-story buildings. Two of the

buildings will be transformed into four townhomes. The third building

will become a single-family home and another single family home will

be built on the back of the lot, representing Habitat for Humanity's

100th home in Orange County. In a strike of synchronicity, around the

same time Habitat for Humanity came on board, 10 regional technology

associations got together and decided to collaborate and contribute

to a charity.

The Orange County Technology Collective chose Habitat for Humanity

and raised $9,000 at its first-ever fund-raiser. These funds will go

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