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Syracuse Habitat holds picnic at Long Branch Park

"Our supporters are the kinds of people who want to sit with their neighbor and talk," she said. "This atmosphere is much more conducive to that than a formal dinner."

Habitat: A history

The Syracuse affiliate of Habitat for Humanity was founded in 1984 and completed its first house in 1986. Since that time, the organization has built or remodeled over 50 houses in the Syracuse area.

Brian Moore, who recently joined Habitat's board, said the faith-based organization has done a lot of very visible work in the Syracuse area.

"It's great to see," Moore said. "We have a very holistic approach to bringing people to their ultimate goal of home ownership. We really try to work with the families."

Syracuse Habitat is now working on building homes on the city's Near West Side. Brandt said the organization has committed to that area for the next two or three years and has already constructed 17 homes.

"What drew us there was some of the complexities that community faces," said Moore. "That area faces a number of different issues. Certainly, substandard housing is at the top of that list. If there ever was a place that our mission can make an impact, that's definitely it."

Moore said the organization's affiliation with a national organization only strengthens it and improves its ability to carry out its mission.

"We're very fortunate," he said. "We can meet with national representatives from Habitat and they give us input into our local operation. We benefit from that experience."

A volunteer-friendly organization

Syracuse Habitat also benefits from the experience of a number of dedicated volunteers, many of whom attended the picnic at Long Branch Park. Habitat construction manager Paul Mabe, who has been with the organization for four years, is grateful in particular for the handful of longtime volunteers.

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