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Houston County Habitat for Humanity recipient says $1M donation 'a blessing' for others in need

The board hasn't met yet to decide specifics, but the donation does not have any restrictions.

WARNER ROBINS, Ga. — Houston County Habitat for Humanity wants to "expand to a higher level" with their share of a $436 million gift.

We went to Warner Robins to find out what they plan to do with the money.

All of the money is going to go towards 83 different Habitat for Humanity affiliates. Houston County is getting $1 million.

The group received the money from philanthropist Mackenzie Scott. She's the former wife of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.

"They don't know how much of a blessing that's going to be to homeowners," Sandra Mayo said.

Sandra Mayo works at Subway as a manager. Last May, Habitat for Humanity finished building her new home.

"If it wasn't for Habitat, we'd probably be homeless. Habitat saved my family and me," Mayo said, choking up. "Sorry, I get emotional, but Habitat saved us."

They used to live in a rental home.

Mayo said, "Everywhere we went, it flooded or leaked, so we were just confined to one area. So now, we can come together as a family in the living room or the kitchen. We got a four bed, two bath. It fits everybody."

Mayo says she sees Scott's generosity helping "a lot of families."

"Not only that, they will be able to buy the supplies, and be able to help homeowners fix up their houses!" Mayo said.

"Obviously, the million dollars is quite the multiplier," executive director of Houston County Habitat Bill Goggin said.

Goggin says they plan to build more homes, hire more contractors, and possibly bank much of the money for future projects.

"It was just really nice to see that kind of money go to a smaller market, because we can certainly put that money to use," Goggin said.

"I've got my house, I've got food, and I've got my family. I am happy!" Mayo said.

Their goal is to double the amount of homes they make in a year. Right now, they build three homes a year.

"The whole construction industry is reeling from high costs, and then in then the nonprofit sector, it's really difficult; because you can't just raise the price of the home, because that low- to middle-income person can't afford it. So, this is going to let us keep the cost down, allow us to build more, and allow us to serve families with smaller mortgages," Goggin said.

"Being a homeowner, for one, is a blessing, and to have an affordable home... well, they help you. They want you to pay the mortgage. They don't want you to fail. They don't want the houses back, they want you and your family to have a home," Mayo said.

The board hasn't met yet to decide specifics, but the donation does not have any restrictions.

Goggin said, "It's not often you get unrestricted gifts. Usually, they have restrictions and a lot of reporting, and usually you have to hire someone to do the reporting, so the reporting requirements will be very minimal. They want an annual report and maybe a one-page report on how you are doing and what we are doing with the money."

"A lot of people think having a Habitat home is a handout, but it's really not. Bill is always telling me, 'It's a 'hand-up,' not a handout,' and it really is," Mayo said.

If you want to support the Houston County Habitat for Humanity, you can donate or buy items at their Warner Robins ReStore location: 2607 Moody Road in Warner Robins. For any questions, you can call their office at (478) 328-3388, or their ReStore at (478) 929-1511.

In total, Scott donated $436 million to Habitat for Humanity organizations across the country.

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