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Habitat for Humanity gives evicted family another shot (Family with 14 KIDS!)
Scranton Times-Tribune ^ | 12/17/2003 | Andrew M. Seder

Posted on 12/17/2003 8:30:00 AM PST by Born Conservative

A family's second chance
By Andrew M. Seder 12/17/2003
Charles and Barbara Smith and 14 of their 18 children are moving back into their North Scranton home today, just in time for the holidays.

The Smith family was forced to leave the house after the city condemned it July 29 -- the first known Habitat for Humanity home in the country to be condemned.

On Tuesday, a team of city inspectors went through the house at 2517 N. Main Ave. and removed the "unfit for human habitation" label.

Mr. Smith says he regrets what happened because of "my neglect and lax supervision" and promises Habitat for Humanity things will be different this time.

Mr. Smith said he looks forward to spending Christmas back in his house. He's sorry Habitat was dragged through the mud.

"This was a hard lesson learned, but I've corrected the problem and it won't happen again," Mr. Smith said.

After the condemnation, Habitat for Humanity of Lackawanna County -- following the example of other area Habitat organization -- hired a family support counselor to assist the Smiths and other families.

Robin Decker immediately went to work interviewing the Smiths and educating them on budgeting, simple home maintenance and parenting skills.

"When I first met them, the kids would throw candy wrappers on the floor. That does not happen anymore. They know about discipline and responsibilities now," Ms. Decker said. "Things are different."

"They know that if this happens again we'll be out on the street," Mr. Smith said.

The Smiths and their children moved into the house three years ago. They have been staying with the couple's third oldest son since being evicted.

The home was condemned, according to city officials, because it had no heat, hot water or electricity. Inspectors also noted holes in walls, floors and ceilings; electrical circuitry problems, the lack of smoke detectors and other deficiencies.

Laura Gillette, the city's deputy director for permits, inspections and licensing, said it was mostly "unsanitary conditions that needed to be cleaned."

The Smith family, friends and volunteers from Habitat for Humanity worked to bring the house back into compliance.

"Habitat didn't spend one dime," said Robert "Ozzie" Quinn, executive director for the Lackawanna chapter of Habitat. He said donations and volunteers made the home livable again.

Mr. Smith said having 14 kids ages 3 to 14 under one roof would be a problem for anyone. But he acknowledged his lack of discipline made matters worse.

"If you have 14 kids at home and no place for them to play, I don't care who you are, you're going to have damage in your house," Mr. Smith said.

Mr. Smith said he will remain a stay-at-home father while his wife works as a housekeeping supervisor for a hotel in Dickson City. It's her paycheck that pays the bills, including the $115-a-month mortgage payment to Habitat.

Mr. Quinn said he's weary of people saying Habitat shouldn't have helped such a large family and shouldn't have stuck by them through the past four months.

"This is a crisis situation. We can't just turn our backs on them," Mr. Quinn said.

Mr. Smith said that by spending more than $4,000 of his own money to fix the house, his children's best holiday present will probably be getting to sleep in their own beds again.

"It's going to be a crappy Christmas for the kids, but we'll make the best of it," Mr. Smith said.

But Mr. Smith is thankful others have been so charitable.

Between volunteers, including those from local colleges, and donations from others, the Smiths said the repair work and materials and new appliances could have cost more than $10,000.

"I came here one day in October to do some work and there was a brand-new refrigerator and oven on the porch. I have no idea where they came from, but I thank whoever it was," Mr. Smith said.




TOPICS: Culture/Society; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: birthcontrol; habitat; habitatforhumanity; irresponsiblefather; malingerer; privatecharity; toomanykids; welfareabuse
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One of the local radio talk show hosts calls this family the "Rabbit Family".  I posted several threads on this over the summer, but I did a search and can't find them. 

Also, the title was taken from the main web page of the paper; I feel it more accurately describes the article.

1 posted on 12/17/2003 8:30:01 AM PST by Born Conservative
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To: Born Conservative
There's a long waiting list for Habitat for Humanity homes in our area. Here, when a family gets a Habitat for Humanity home, it's kept immaculately, inside and out.

It's unbelievable these people are getting a second chance. They don't deserve it.

2 posted on 12/17/2003 8:33:00 AM PST by Catspaw
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To: Born Conservative
Sounds like Habitat handled this in the best way possible, given the circumstances. The Smiths had to do a lot of the work to make the place better, and are learning about how to keep the house from falling apart in the future. The time for Habitat to have brought in volunteers to teach them this was before the condemning, but better late than never. Though I wasn't aware it was even possible to have 18 biological children -- are some adopted, or cousins? One at every year and a half makes 24 years of child bearing, and even if she started at 16, that's quite a string of uninterrupted fertility.
3 posted on 12/17/2003 8:40:51 AM PST by laurav (celebrating my 3rd FR anniversary on 12/5!)
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To: Born Conservative
Mr. Quinn said he's weary of people saying Habitat shouldn't have helped such a large family and shouldn't have stuck by them through the past four months. "This is a crisis situation. We can't just turn our backs on them," Mr. Quinn said.

Mr. Quinn's email address is: OZ@EPIX.NET

4 posted on 12/17/2003 8:41:47 AM PST by Born Conservative ("Forgive your enemies, but never forget their names" - John F. Kennedy)
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To: laurav
It's also quite a large number of public charges for a single family - a strong argument for sterilization in extreme circumstances.
5 posted on 12/17/2003 8:42:41 AM PST by thoughtomator (The Federal judiciary is a terrorist organization)
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To: Born Conservative
Great post.

Mr. Smith said he will remain a stay-at-home father...

This guy shithead doesn't rate the title "Mr." DTOM

6 posted on 12/17/2003 8:42:42 AM PST by Ace's Dad
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To: laurav
While I find HFH's work admirable, a friend of mine (wish I'D had this idea) hit the nail on the head by suggesting HFH build new homes for working families, and purchase and donate the old home to a HFH family.

As my friend stated, "I've been working all my life and making mortgage payments on this dump, yet the HFH family across the street gets a brand new home at a bargain price!"

A legitimate gripe, in my opinion.

7 posted on 12/17/2003 8:50:23 AM PST by daler
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To: laurav
Here is one of the threads on this story that I posted back in August with a description of the damage as well as noting that they were delinquent on paying bills. http://209.157.64.200/focus/f-news/964983/posts
8 posted on 12/17/2003 8:50:38 AM PST by Born Conservative ("Forgive your enemies, but never forget their names" - John F. Kennedy)
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To: laurav
In my mom's hometown, I played with kids who came from a family of 26, all single births.
9 posted on 12/17/2003 8:54:05 AM PST by Catspaw
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To: Catspaw
Can someone explain how they can have 14 children and they are living "under one roof" the oldest being 14 yet they have been staying temporarily with the "third oldest son". (I am left to believe he has his own place). Are there really more that 14? Am I misunderstanding something?
10 posted on 12/17/2003 8:56:54 AM PST by GOP_Proud (Those who preach tolerance seem to have the least for my views.)
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To: GOP_Proud
OK. DumDum Me just noticed the title "...14 of 18". Nevermind.
11 posted on 12/17/2003 8:58:00 AM PST by GOP_Proud (Those who preach tolerance seem to have the least for my views.)
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To: Born Conservative
A rough Christmas for the kids?? I suspect every day is "rough". It would take a large farm to feed the bunch.

As Groucho opined when interviewing a woman who had 11 children he said "Well - I like my cigar - but occasionally I take it oughta my mouth".

12 posted on 12/17/2003 8:58:52 AM PST by sandydipper (Never quit - never surrender!)
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To: GOP_Proud
The story said they have 18 children. Fourteen of them are still at home. That'd mean four of the children are living elsewhere.
13 posted on 12/17/2003 8:58:57 AM PST by Catspaw
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To: thoughtomator
As the 8th child in a family of 8 children, I don't fault the "how many". I have a problem with the "can't provide for".
14 posted on 12/17/2003 9:00:35 AM PST by GOP_Proud (Those who preach tolerance seem to have the least for my views.)
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To: thoughtomator
It's also quite a large number of public charges for a single family - a strong argument for sterilization in extreme circumstances.

There is no evidence in the article that the family is on the state dole, in fact quite the contrary: "Mr. Smith said he will remain a stay-at-home father while his wife works as a housekeeping supervisor for a hotel in Dickson City. It's her paycheck that pays the bills..."

Most of the available facts should be regarded favorably by conservatives. All of the charity at issue was provided privately, by volunteer funds and volunteer labor. And the recipients were treated as human beings rather than welfare case numbers. The family was required to contribute its own money to the work, which promotes responsibility. Furthermore, the father is raising his children rather than abandoning them to the state or dumping them in day care. In short, a private charity success story.

Given all the good news, why does a poster on Free Republic call the circumstances sufficiently "extreme" as to warrant state-coerced sterilization? Isn't that what we condemn totalitarian regimes for?

15 posted on 12/17/2003 9:02:16 AM PST by Stop Legal Plunder
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To: Stop Legal Plunder
I'm not in the "forced sterilization" crowd either and I'm willing to say yes, there is a lot of good here. However, to have qualified for HFH to begin with, they were already in trouble with the number of children. In this day and age there is very little excuse for having 4,6,8, 10, 14, etc. children that you cannot provide for properly.
16 posted on 12/17/2003 9:07:31 AM PST by GOP_Proud (Those who preach tolerance seem to have the least for my views.)
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To: LibWhacker; mhking; willieroe; aynrandfreak; Eaker; B Knotts; July 4th; petuniasevan; strela; ...
Follow up ping on this story from August: http://209.157.64.200/focus/f-news/964983/posts
17 posted on 12/17/2003 9:09:14 AM PST by Born Conservative ("Forgive your enemies, but never forget their names" - John F. Kennedy)
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To: Stop Legal Plunder
My preference, of course, is that they should be able to breed themselves into poverty all they wish, as long as nobody is sticking a gun in my face to make me pay for it.

I would hardly call limiting excessive procreation in circumstances where the family can't pay for it - 18 children! - totalitarian.

Just the fact of public schooling means they are on the dole - the legal plunder you want to stop - for around $6k/kid/year, so that's $124,000/year the taxpayer is paying (minus a miniscule amount of taxes collected from them, if any) versus the $10,000 one-time private charity they are receiving.

I don't see what's so conservative about this story.
18 posted on 12/17/2003 9:12:18 AM PST by thoughtomator (The Federal judiciary is a terrorist organization)
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To: Born Conservative
One of the local radio talk show hosts calls this family the "Rabbit Family"...I feel it more accurately describes the article.

Hardly. The headline is designed to grab the attention of those who think large families are inherently evil, but only two sentences in the article address the number of children. That's because the size of the family isn't the issue; rather, the problem is a father who fell short in his resposibility to take care of them.

But even that isn't the main point. The main point is that private charity addressed this problem effectively, inexpensively, and early enough to make a difference.

19 posted on 12/17/2003 9:13:14 AM PST by Stop Legal Plunder
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To: biblewonk
ping
20 posted on 12/17/2003 9:13:44 AM PST by newgeezer (A conservative who conserves -- a true capitalist!)
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To: Catspaw
OhMyGarwsh!!! I couldn't even imagine that. (shudder)
21 posted on 12/17/2003 9:17:50 AM PST by Jaded (Personally, I think they should bring back flogging and burning at the stake.)
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To: thoughtomator; newgeezer
It's also quite a large number of public charges for a single family - a strong argument for sterilization in extreme circumstances.

Unbelievable!

22 posted on 12/17/2003 9:20:27 AM PST by biblewonk (I must try to answer all bible questions.)
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To: Born Conservative
[It was] the first known Habitat for Humanity home in the country to be condemned.

My view of Habitat for Humanity was colored for years because Jimmy Carter was so involved with the group. But this news of only one condemned house impresses me very much, as the organization has built tens of thousands of homes over the years.

To put this on context, one need only note that during the 1990s the City of New York allowed more than 300,000 homes to rot under its control. Instead of selling them, it boarded them up (so unrepaired leaks destroyed the properties), and many if not most became the denizens of crack addicts and drug dealers.

I'll take Habit for Humanity housing management shortcomings over state stewardship any day of the week.

23 posted on 12/17/2003 9:20:49 AM PST by Stop Legal Plunder
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To: Ace's Dad; newgeezer
This guy shithead doesn't rate the title "Mr." DTOM

Another one!

24 posted on 12/17/2003 9:21:17 AM PST by biblewonk (I must try to answer all bible questions.)
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To: Born Conservative
"The home was condemned, according to city officials, because it had no heat, hot water or electricity. "

WHAT?! who says a house needs these things OR it get's condemned-i've lived without these conveniences/utilities from 'time to time'-OUTRAGEOUS....

25 posted on 12/17/2003 9:24:28 AM PST by 1234 (Border control or IMPEACHMENT)
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To: biblewonk
More or less believable than a free house and a hundred grand of state subsidies per year, and nobody saying, "Hmm, maybe the problem is you have so many kids that you can't support them?"
26 posted on 12/17/2003 9:28:46 AM PST by thoughtomator (The Federal judiciary is a terrorist organization)
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To: thoughtomator
Way way way less believable.
27 posted on 12/17/2003 9:32:49 AM PST by biblewonk (I must try to answer all bible questions.)
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To: biblewonk
Apparently, since the nanny/sugar-daddy state is not only here to stay but also acceptable and even desireable, people -- even some "conservatives" -- are increasingly resigned (brainwashed?) to thinking where state funding is a foregone conclusion, state control is only natural.
28 posted on 12/17/2003 9:34:46 AM PST by newgeezer (fundamentalist, regarding the Constitution AND the Holy Bible, i.e. words mean things!)
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To: GOP_Proud
To have qualified for HFH to begin with, they were already in trouble with the number of children. In this day and age there is very little excuse for having 4,6,8, 10, 14, etc. children that you cannot provide for properly.

We don't know all of the details of this family's history and situation. Given our lack of information, we should give the family -- and the Habitat evaluators that assessed their situation -- the benefit of the doubt rather than assume the existence of the large family itself is justification for blanket condemnation of the parents.

I think we can say that the entity that makes it most difficult for fathers to provide fully for their children is the state. Add up all taxes -- federal and state income taxes, sales taxes, property taxes, gas taxes, surcharges, fees, etc. -- and the average family forks over more than 50% of its income to the government.

Providing for a family under our current tax burden is a challenge no matter how many, or few, children one has.

29 posted on 12/17/2003 9:35:03 AM PST by Stop Legal Plunder
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To: Born Conservative
This story just proves that buildings don't make slums, people make slums.
30 posted on 12/17/2003 9:38:07 AM PST by lady lawyer
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To: thoughtomator
I would hardly call limiting excessive procreation in circumstances where the family can't pay for it - 18 children! - totalitarian.

It certainly is -- especially when the main reason fathers can't provide financially for their children is the plunder of the state. Adjusted for inflation, the current per child tax exemption is thousands of dollars below its original value. Fixing this alone would solve the problem for most families in America.

31 posted on 12/17/2003 9:40:34 AM PST by Stop Legal Plunder
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To: Born Conservative
"When I first met them, the kids would throw candy wrappers on the floor. That does not happen anymore. They know about discipline and responsibilities now," Ms. Decker said. "Things are different."

Wow, I didn't know you could totally trash a house by dropping candy wrappers on the floor!

32 posted on 12/17/2003 9:41:57 AM PST by LibWhacker
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To: newgeezer
It amazes me how easy it is to get people to call for more government. All you have to do is let them think someone is taking their money.
33 posted on 12/17/2003 9:43:57 AM PST by biblewonk (I must try to answer all bible questions.)
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To: laurav
My late grandmother had 16 children, 2 of which died at a young age.

She lived to be about 3 weeks shy of turning 90.

34 posted on 12/17/2003 9:44:26 AM PST by Constitution Day (Iraqi blogger to President Bush: "The bones in the mass graves salute you, Avenger of the Bones.")
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To: Stop Legal Plunder
Given that, we're already at totalitarian.
35 posted on 12/17/2003 9:50:34 AM PST by thoughtomator (The Federal judiciary is a terrorist organization)
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To: Born Conservative
Perhaps if they condemn it, and they boot out the bad family, they are allowed to fix it and give it to a more deserving one. HFH may just have to go through the proper steps in order to do so. By the way, my son is 2 and doesn't throw garbage on the floor.
36 posted on 12/17/2003 9:55:21 AM PST by WV Mountain Mama
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To: thoughtomator
Just the fact of public schooling means they are on the dole - the legal plunder you want to stop - for around $6k/kid/year, so that's $124,000/year the taxpayer is paying (minus a miniscule amount of taxes collected from them, if any) versus the $10,000 one-time private charity they are receiving.

I have 25 cousins that are homeschooled (twelve in one family alone) using family funds exclusively (three other cousins are educated at private schools). Their parents are forced to pay for the state "public school" monopoly even though they receive no benefits from it. The same is true of childless couples and retirees that are forced to pay property taxes that are coerced "for the children".

It's not fair to criticize or punish one family for the injustices of the whole system. Government school is socialist by design: It takes money from some to pay for the state indoctrination of others. This is unavoidable, as no family can be precisely average -- having 2.54 kids and paying exactly average taxes -- in order to pay their "fair share" of education taxes.

Every family -- yours included -- is paying either more or less than its share of taxes for education. Injustice is unavoidable in this system. If you like me and Thomas Jefferson consider this arrangement to be evil, then work to get the state out of education completely. Start with your own family. And, in the meantime, stop attacking other families for being caught up in a system they didn't create and largely don't want.

37 posted on 12/17/2003 9:56:40 AM PST by Stop Legal Plunder
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To: biblewonk
So, to continue the thought of my previous reply #28, if anyone happens to think government's forced redistribution of wealth is preferable to the "old-fashioned" voluntary, privately-run charity model -- you know, where benefactors are more likely to contribute out of benevolence than out of coercion, and recipients are less likely to adopt the entitlement mindset -- they might want to think the socialist government model through to its likely and perhaps inevitable conclusion.

Because, when government holds the pursestrings, there often are (or will eventually be) some other strings attached. Forced sterilization of welfare recipients -- even certain Child Tax Credit recipients -- is easily within the realm of possibilities.

38 posted on 12/17/2003 9:59:54 AM PST by newgeezer (From each according to his ability, to each according to his need. -- Karl Marx (Dem., USSA)
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To: Stop Legal Plunder
That's all well and good when applied to a reasonably normal family, but given the current laws, this family having children it can't support becomes a direct expense for you and me. So to say they are blameless is untrue.

What happened to the concept of personal responsibility? And what in your mind is the conservative answer to a person who, unable to meet their responsibilities, and also unable to control the problem that caused said inability, foists that responsibility onto the society at large?

Someone wants to have 50 kids - fine. Someone wants to make me pay for those kids - not fine.

The government is not forcing these people to have more children - they do have responsibility for the situation, a hell of a lot more than the people who will end up paying for a large share of the raising of those children.
39 posted on 12/17/2003 10:06:02 AM PST by thoughtomator (The Federal judiciary is a terrorist organization)
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To: thoughtomator
Given that [the state at all levels takes more than 50% of one's income in taxes], we're already at totalitarian.

Good point. Moderns like to scorn the feudal system and look down on the "exploitation" of serfs during the Middle Ages, but they received better protection from bandits and invaders for their 30% in taxes than we do for 50+% today.

And both 50% and 30% are much more than the 10% that the prophet Samuel warned the Hebrews they would have to pay if they got the king "like the other nations" that they clamored for. (1 Samuel 8:10-18).

I ask all who are content with the present why the taxes of today's King George and his nobles on the Hill are more tolerable than the much lower levies of the King George of 1776?

40 posted on 12/17/2003 10:13:01 AM PST by Stop Legal Plunder
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To: daler
HEY I was watching the tube and along came a new program that GWB is fighting for I believe he got it, it is called THE AMERICAN DREAM PROGRAM OHHHHH the lights when on, I thought me and my husband might qualify for this one, HAHAHAHA the jokes on us we only get to pay for this program because, it is for minorties and oh yeah we still have our DD214, cant use it though cause we are paying on back taxes, seems we didnt pay enough oh well I suppose I SHOULD BE GLAD THAT WE HAVE ROOF OVER OR HEADS.
41 posted on 12/17/2003 10:20:18 AM PST by douglas1 (i)
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To: thoughtomator
Someone wants to have 50 kids - fine. Someone wants to make me pay for those kids - not fine.

I agree with you completely. The problem is what to do about our present system which has institutionalized plunder -- taking some to give to others without regard for equity or justice or responsibility -- at almost every level.

One way to try and limit the damage is to pass laws that enable more government intrusion and more government power (e.g. sterilizing families with more than x number of children in public school). The alternative is to fight to pass laws that result in less government intrusion (e.g. ending state control and funding of education).

It seems to me the only conservative choice is the second one.

42 posted on 12/17/2003 10:23:05 AM PST by Stop Legal Plunder
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To: Catspaw
I think Michael Irvin is the youngest of 27.
43 posted on 12/17/2003 10:26:52 AM PST by Guillermo (Shoot me if you ever see me on a Kobe Bryant, Michael Jackson or Scott Peterson thread)
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To: Born Conservative
So, much for the idea that home ownership would instill pride, and motivate the "home owner" to keep the house maintained. Another Liberal ideal goes down in flames!
44 posted on 12/17/2003 10:32:37 AM PST by Destructor
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To: Jaded
OhMyGarwsh!!! I couldn't even imagine that. (shudder)

Well, they had a very large farm :-))

I just think of my Mom having trouble remembering which sister I was (there are five girls in our family), stuttering her way through the names before she hit on the right one. I just can't imagine what the mother of 26 would do.

45 posted on 12/17/2003 10:33:46 AM PST by Catspaw
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To: GOP_Proud
There are 17 kids, 14 still at home. Two sets of twins included in the 14...

Hope they work it out.
46 posted on 12/17/2003 10:33:57 AM PST by SarahW
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To: SarahW
Or is it 18 kids? Glad I'm not the one in charge of keeping count.
47 posted on 12/17/2003 10:34:41 AM PST by SarahW
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To: Catspaw
Same thing here. Habitat also works with home owners to teach them minor home repair things such as caulking, filing drywall holes, etc.
48 posted on 12/17/2003 10:34:43 AM PST by rintense
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To: Destructor
So, much for the idea that home ownership would instill pride, and motivate the "home owner" to keep the house maintained.

Don't judge all that have received homes from Habitat for Humanity by this family. The ones that have been built in our old neighborhood are immacuate, and the pride in ownership shows.

49 posted on 12/17/2003 10:35:35 AM PST by Catspaw
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To: rintense
Habitat also works with home owners to teach them minor home repair things such as caulking, filing drywall holes, , condom use, etc
50 posted on 12/17/2003 10:38:57 AM PST by AppyPappy (If You're Not A Part Of The Solution, There's Good Money To Be Made In Prolonging The Problem.)
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