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Housing Project Brings Together Members of all Faiths

'All Faith' Habitat for Humanity housing project brings together volunteers from different faiths with a common goal.

What do you get when you put a Muslim, a Christian and a Jewish person together?

In Cupertino, it equals the All Faiths House building project by , which was scheduled to break ground late January but has been pushed back to early summer.

The house is one of four Habitat houses slated to be built on Cleo Avenue and Rainbow Drive near Highway 85, according to Jennifer Simmons, executive director of Habitat for Humanity Silicon Valley.

The All Faiths House is a new Habitat concept that brings together people of all faiths who volunteer their time and financial support to build a house for a family in need, said Don Varney, the faith relations manager for Habitat.

“Building the house is a great accomplishment in itself,” Varney said. “But even more important are the relationships and friendships that are forged through the faith groups working together.”

Varney said the faith community working together breaks down barriers and builds social capital that can be used for future community activities as well as problem solving.

The project has been held up because of difficulties getting utilities on site, Simmons said.

“It’s not uncommon at this stage of the project,” Simmons said.  “It’s the most unpredictable part and it takes the longest.”

Yet the spirit of the project is catching fire, Varney said, with more than 60 congregations interested in volunteering.

“When I heard there was a chance to help people in need, I thought it would be a blessing to be a part of it,” said Cecil Dobbs, who attends both and in Cupertino.

Dobbs said he was even more interested in the chance to take part in a project involving different faiths working together.

“It doesn’t matter if you are Jewish, Muslim or Christian—we are all just people, and when we cut our finger, we all bleed the same,” Dobbs said. “I like the focus of being nice to each other and doing things for each other.”

The city of Cupertino incurs the cost of the land, estimated at $600,000, and then also awards $250,000 toward the building process, Simmons said.

She also said the cost of the completed project—including the land and four houses—is estimated around $2.4 million.

Another volunteer said it was integral to his faith to help others.

“Another part of this is that where we live, we may not get to see or help a lot of needy people,” said Razi Mohiuddin, a board member of West Valley Muslim Association in Saratoga.

“Our children only get to see one side of things; this is a way to show them the diversity of those who live in this valley.”

Mohiuddin said another added benefit is that working with people of other faiths is a good way to build bridges and perhaps get to share a meal.

The selection process for Habitat families will open in late April to early May.

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