TAMPA President George W. Bush helped
fellow United Methodists here build a Habitat
for Humanity house June 5 for the family of Johana Rodriguez.
Bush spent about an hour helping a team of mostly United Methodist
pastors from the Tampa District construct a wall in the house, which will be home to
Rodriguez, a single-mother, her two children, two siblings and her mother. The family is
now living in two rooms, a bedroom and a kitchen.
The house is sponsored by the Florida Conferences Tampa
District, which is raising the $45,000 needed for materials and supplies, according to the
Rev. David Brazelton, former superintendent of the Tampa District. In the three weeks the
district has been raising money, it has collected approximately $14,000.
The Rodriguez house is one of four Habitat is building in the Grant
Park area east of Tampa on a recently acquired plot of land.
Brazelton led the morning devotional for the team and a second
devotional for the presidents entourage. He said he wasnt comfortable with
some of the hype surrounding the presidents visit to the site. Im not
here to support a political party, but to support persons who legitimately have a need for
a home, he said.
After about an hour of work, the president took time to promote
cooperation between the government and faith-based organizations.
Bush said he wished he knew of a law he could sign that would
make people love each other, but that love does not happen because of the
This is a land of hope, a land of promise, a land of
opportunity, Bush said. Its a land of compassionate people.
Bush paid tribute to Millard Fuller, the founder of Habitat for
Humanity, calling him a general in the army of compassion. He said he was
proposing the federal budget line item for Habitat be tripled.
Our government should not fear working side by side with
faith-based organizations, he said. To the skeptics I say come to a Habitat
for Humanity site and listen to the words that inspire people. Critics dont
understand the power, hope and promise of faith.
Pastors react to visit
Brazelton said he spent a few minutes chatting with the president
while they worked. They spoke about family and their mutual interest in Habitat for
Humanity and other faith-based initiatives.
His presence is very ordinary, Brazelton said.
Hes just another human being. He worked hard and was sweating.
The Rev. Ron DeGenaro, pastor of Seminole Heights United Methodist
Church, which houses the Habitats Hillsborough County office, said it was a
lot of fun working with the president.
I asked him, Whats the greatest thing about being
president, DeGenaro said. He said its seeing the United States
and seeing people of faith walk up and tell him theyre praying for him.
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© 2001 Florida United Methodist Review Online