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King’s Hawaiian employees help build Habitat home for one of their own
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Maria Franco, right, hugs Habitat for Humanity of Hall County’s Christine Osasu Tuesday morning, Nov. 7, 2017, at King’s Hawaiian Bakery as Franco’s Habitat for Humanity home is moved from the King’s Hawaiian parking lot to its permanent site at Copper Glen. - photo by Scott Rogers

Atop a hill in the Copper Glen Habitat for Humanity subdivision in Gainesville sits the base of a new home for Maria Franco. The home was moved from the King’s Hawaiian Bakery’s parking lot to the subdivision Tuesday morning.

Employees of the Oakwood baking company helped build the beginnings of the home for the single mother of four in conjunction with Habitat for Humanity of Hall County.

Franco has been an employee of King’s Hawaiian for more than four years.

“She is a wonderful lady and her children are all awesome,” said Drew Meyer, executive director of Habitat for Humanity of Hall County.

“This is something we have never done before. It is pretty unique,” Meyer added. “The base of the house was built on their parking lot.”

What began as a conversation between Joe Leonardo, the vice president of manufacturing at King’s Hawaiian, and Ann Nixon, the former executive director at Habitat for Humanity of Hall County, became a reality Tuesday morning for Franco’s family.

“They built it there so their employees could engage easier,” Meyer said.

Meyer said about 100 employees worked on the home and completed it in seven workdays.

“It was an amazing group of volunteers,” Meyer said. “We had a lot of people from their maintenance group. This is about four weeks ahead of where we would be with a traditional build.”

The King’s Hawaiian employees built the floor system and walls and raised the roof trusses.

“The Kings Hawaiian people are great … They are paying for all the expenses on Maria’s house,” Meyer said. “They had about 40 volunteers in the parking lot celebrating. It was really great. This is what it is all about. Habitat has been around about 40 years, so you have these multigenerational stories that start with the original family and then their kids have that sense of service and commitment and they go out and do amazing things.”

King’s Hawaiian has provided all of the funding for the construction and moving of the home to its new location.

“From here, we put on the siding, roof and then we will start the inside of the house. The trays will come in, plumbers, electricians and the people that put on the drywall,” Meyer said. “At that point, the volunteers will put up the siding and rafters.”

Habitat for Humanity of Hall County has constructed seven new homes over a 2-year period in the Copper Glen neighborhood.

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