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Habitat honors helper who hammers dreams together

Volunteers for the Tri-River Habitat for Humanity have strived to eliminate poverty housing in Halifax County for the past two decades.

Their efforts have been rewarded with the construction of 21 houses, the most recent a home on College Avenue in South Boston.

There swinging a hammer, like he has for almost all the houses built by Habitat, was Gene Haugh, and Habitat recognized Haugh for his years of service Friday with the first Sandy Mosby Award.

Named in honor of one of the founders of Tri-River Habitat for Humanity, the award was presented to Haugh by Mosby’s wife, Marcia, habitat board president Mike Koch and board member Michael Watson.

“Over 20 years ago, Sandy Mosby and some of his friends recognized the need to build habitat houses in this county,” said Koch.

“Initially it was Sandy and a couple of other people who started the work all by themselves. Over time they got some more volunteers and more interest and established the Tri-River habitat for Humanity, an affiliate of Habitat International.”

The late Sandy Mosby was the head of merchandise for the Leggett Department Store chain, but he always found time to devote to habitat, according to his wife.

“He was always a wonderful ‘fixit’ person, and I was real lucky, I married a handyman,” Marcia Mosby said with a smile. 

“He was on the road a lot, and this was a great release for him.  He had a very big heart and loved to help people.”

In the beginning it was Sandy Mosby and two others, Frank Godbold and Joe Simonson, who were a three-man construction crew, she pointed out.

“The three of them built a house almost totally,” recalled Marcia Mosby, who recently donated a number of tools and equipment owned by her husband to Habitat.

“There was no volunteer coordinator, and Sandy did not like to call people and ask for their help, so it was kind of who showed up.”

A number of other volunteers were recognized Friday for their volunteer work with habitat, including Scotty Szakacs, Ernest Vass, Hank Centuolo, Bob Mason, John Farrington, Alex Tucker, Bill Wilkins and B.J. Thornburg.

Koch presented plaques to the group in appreciation for the volunteers’ dedication and willingness to contribute to habitat’s quest to “eliminate poverty housing one house at a time,” and “putting faith into action.”

Approximately 36 businesses contributed labor, materials and materials at reduced prices to help build house No. 12, according to Koch.

“Thank the movers and shakers who turned a pile of building materials into a home,” he noted.

Executive Director Bob Hughes said not only is the work of the group’s volunteers appreciated but “your willingness to reach out and not just say what you believe but put your beliefs into action.

“It’s appreciated beyond words,” added Hughes. “I’m sure those families do and members of the community, because in the last 20 years, we’ve averaged building a house every 20 months.

“With the completion of this last house, it’s been reduced to at least a house every 12 months.

“If we can continue to get the word out and help people understand, number one this is not a giveaway program, but a program that truly spends the monies raised right here in Halifax County. It’s not a giveaway, and it gives people a hand up, not a hand out. If we make sure we get that word out, I’m sure that shorter curve will remain,” Hughes said.