Project Build a Future celebrates opening of new

By By Lance Traweek / American Press

Mary Thomas of Lake Charles said she

feels “blessed and grateful” to have a home of her own and gives thanks

to a local nonprofit

for making her dream a reality.

“When I wanted to give up, the people at Project Build a Future lifted me up and helped me through the process,” said Thomas,

who has been a homeowner for about a year. “It’s a beautiful, comfortable home.”

Thomas joined about two dozen people Thursday as Project Build a Future celebrated the opening of its new office, at 2306

Third St.

For more than 12 years, the

organization has worked to revitalize its target area north of Broad

Street through homeownership

initiatives, said Executive Director Nicole Miller. The project

formerly worked out of office space at Sacred Heart Catholic


Started by Willie King and Henry Mancuso, the organization has made huge strides over the last decade by facilitating the

investment of more than $4.5 million into the community, Miller said.

To date, it has permanently housed more than 50 families and has built 18 homes.

The new location is temporary and will one day be a home for a family. Project officials hope to get into permanent housing


Besides bettering the lives of those involved, Mancuso said, the organization strengthens the community.

“We build quality homes — quality homes that make a difference in a our community and bring people up from a situation that

was not as good,” Miller said.

“By creating a home that is, in fact, beautiful they’ll stay in that home and invest in the community. They’ll become a part

of something bigger, and that’s what transforms our society.”