People working together made Sweat Equity possible

Oct. 6, 2011 at 5:06 a.m.

Imagine not having a roof over your head.

Can you conceive of living out of your car or traveling from house to house and being dependent on someone, who is obviously superior to you, to provide you and your children temporary shelter and then telling you to move on when you have worn out your welcome?

Can you conceive of the personal indignity of being dependant on others because you are not capable of standing on your own? Habitat for Humanity provides an alternative for those desirous of owning their own home and achieving independence. Habitat for Humanity is NOT a charity; it is a vehicle for raising yourself up.

As an organization, Habitat depends on the labor of volunteers for the majority of construction, but it still needs funds for purchasing materials, tools, equipment, etc. Organizations such as Habitat often conduct fundraisers as a means to generate funds. On Oct. 1, Habitat for Humanity Victoria held a Sweat Equity Challenge for the third consecutive year.

The SEC is an event comprised of numerous athletic events that are attractive to a wide range of individuals. This year, there were 16 events providing activities for individuals and teams, and details can still be viewed at

The challenge is a means of raising funds for building efforts, and the name is a means of informing the community that qualified applicants not only pay for their homes monetarily but also by working for 300 hours on their own homes, hence the term Sweat Equity. They earn their homes.

My wife, Gayle, and I have supported Habitat for years as we know in our hearts that, like us, many want to own their own home. Because of our desire to support Habitat, we have actively helped in the Sweat Equity Challenge each year.

It is at this point that I have to say, "I have made a short story long." The real reason for this guest column is to clarify an article about the SEC in the Victoria Advocate, published Oct. 2.

The article stated that Tom Austin created the obstacle course. Hello, I am Tom Austin and that statement is ludicrous. The obstacle course was approximately 1½-mile long and had 18 different obstacles, including the water hazards. It was a small army of individuals and companies who contributed to the construction and success of the obstacle course, and I want to acknowledge their contributions at this point.

Labor was provided by Speedy Castillo, Arpad Panahay, Clint Nesloney, Lois Nesloney, and the high school's Air Force ROTC cadets also volunteered labor hours, which was organized and supervised by Speedy Castillo. Materials were provided by Earthworks Nursery & Landscaping, Discount Tire, Zarsky Lumber and the city of Victoria.

Equipment was provided by MW Rentals & Servicing and Midway Grass Farms. Labor and equipment was provided in the form of Les Richter operating and Victoria Communications providing a pole truck to erect the larger obstacles.

In addition, the ROTC cadets and aforementioned individuals also assisted on the day of the event in the supervision and operation of the obstacle course.

Without these individual, corporate and collective efforts, the obstacle course would not have been such a success.

I wish to express my thanks and respect for their contributions in an effort to help our fellow man and community. The cadets are to be commended, as they contributed their time on weekends to labor in the desire to help improve our community. The adults willingly and aggressively shared their time, tools and skills to construct a physically challenging course and are representative of the values we hold dear. Thank you all again. You made it possible.

Each year, the SEC has grown. It is extremely gratifying to see the participants as it is evidence that the community is supporting their fellow citizens in Victoria and Habitat is not totally dependent on corporate support.

It is up to us as individuals to support the efforts of those seeking not a hand out, but a hand up.

I would like to paraphrase Thomas Paine's quote and say that as a community, "If we don't all stand together, then we may all fall together."

See you for SEC 2012.

Tom Austin is a longtime supporter of Habitat for Humanity and resides in Victoria.



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