Habitat for Humanity of Grayson County’s annual Habi-Taters fundraising banquet brought a little over 300 people to the Sherman Municipal Ballroom Saturday night.


Scores of donors came out to get a plate of brisket and potatoes as part of the annual fundraising banquet Habitat uses as one of its primary drivers of funding to provide housing for families with needs. Jose and Cristina Medina said they were elated to be receiving a home to raise their, soon-to-be three children in.


“Habitat is helping us get a home,” Jose Medina said. “We’re happy because this is our house. It’s for my daughter and my son. It’s great because right now we live in a small apartment.”


The couple said they were happy to be able to raise their kids in a town with a giving community.


“We’re excited to come here and see all the people helping us,” Cristina Medina said. “Sherman is a really good place to live, it’s a lot of nice people.”


Cristina has lived in Sherman for the last 14 years, while her husband moved here from California eight years ago.


“The neighbors are good,” Jose Medina said. “It’s good for our daughter, she has special needs.”


The couple will be getting the 37th home Habitat has built in Grayson County since coming to the community in 1991.


Habitat for Humanity of Grayson County Executive Director Laurie Mealy said the Habi-Taters event has grown each year.


“This kind of dinner obviously raises funds — that’s what we want to do, but it also raises awareness,” Mealy said. “It brings together a lot of volunteers, supporters and friends who have been together in different settings. It’s community building and fundraising at the same time.”


Mealy said Habitat has grown from one house a year to where it now can build three houses a year. She said house No. 37 was getting built currently with No. 38 and No. 39 already being planned. Mealy also said the organization has grown to be able to do repairs for families in addition to building new homes.


“There are people who could never afford a house on their own,” Mealy said. “Long term there are great benefits for the children who grow up in Habitat homes. They have higher education rates, more likely to vote, less likely to have teenage pregnancy, more likely to feel good and be connected to their community.”


Bryan Tillery and his wife were among the volunteers who said they get joy out of helping out.


“It’s a great service for Grayson County,” Tillery said. “Two or three times a year these people get a home. It gives them a chance to have a backyard for their kids and their pets.”


He said his involvement with Habitat has produced too many good memories to list, but the best part is seeing people get a new home, which is something he enjoys seeing year after year.


Paula Cloud is a volunteer who enjoys helping people get homes.


“I just wanted to help people,” Cloud said. “I love volunteering. I love giving back. This is a great way to do it.”


She said the volunteers are extremely positive in their attitudes in helping. She said they always get pumped to start the next project.


“All these people are giving to help more families get homes,” Cloud said. “This is an amazing community, they always give back.”


Wanda Kauffman said Habitat does a lot for the community.


“It is one of the most unique organizations as far as being able to give back to the community,” Kauffman said. “It really shows how much there is a need for affordable housing. The parking lot is packed, the place is packed. This is the busiest I have ever seen it this early. It is really amazing the people that support this organization. This is a very giving community. Grayson County is one of the most giving communities I have ever been involved in.”


The Medina family was one of two families who received Habitat homes to speak at the event. Herald Democrat Lifestyle and Entertainment Editor Future Brown represented her family, which was among the earliest in the county to receive a home from the organization. Her family was home owner No. 6.


“It meets a need in the community,” Mealy said of the work Habitat does.


The room was packed full of people wandering around enjoying the food and entertainment as well as bidding on the items in the silent auction. Mealy said the fundraiser is one of Habitat’s biggest fundraisers and the community support is tremendous to her organization.