VALDOSTA -- A site on Northside Drive was a flurry of activity Saturday as volunteers received additional training in preparation for Phase III of the Jimmy Carter Work Project 2003 scheduled for June 7-13.

A muddy work site didn't slow some 75 volunteers who were eagerly learning the basics of constructing new houses for the needy. Among those volunteers were veteran JCWP workers who have built homes in South Africa, Korea and the Philippines, said Ralph Jackson, director affiliate, Valdosta-Lowndes County Habitat for Humanity. There were construction volunteers from as far away as Atlanta and Tampa, Fla. who joined the local volunteers, he added.

There were about 25 volunteers attending a course that concludes today, called Crew Leader Instruction Program (CLIP) designed to train them as leaders for the Phase III portion. Volunteers from Lowe's and the Valdosta Junior Service League were the recipients of the CLIP training, Dr. Hugh Bailey, chairman JCWP said. "This is probably one of the greatest challenges and opportunities Valdosta and Lowndes County has ever had. This is a vital first phase," Bailey said.

Both Bailey and Jackson proudly said that Valdosta became one of the 10 original communities in the U.S. to eliminate substandard housing.

This project will be something special for a group of women from the Valdosta Junior Service League. They will be part of a women's build during the JCWP in June. The Junior Service League is sponsoring a house and will be building that house, Jackson said. Five of its members are taking the CLIP training, Rhonda Thagard, Valdosta Service League said. The other Junior Service league members attending the training are Rhonda Steinberg, Elaine Keener, Missy Sherwood and Stephanie Broome. The Junior League purchased the materials for the house they'll build and will provide all the workers for it. In addition there are three other women crew leaders coming in from Atlanta and Dallas to assist Thagard and the other Valdosta volunteers. When the construction starts, there are about 25 women expected to work each day from June 6-13, she said.

Thagard admitted she and the other women are a little nervous about building a home and find it a little nerve racking, she said.

The women will be learning the fundamentals of construction so they will have a better understanding when they do quality checks on the construction, Dick Gage, executive assistant for JCWP said. Gage has about five years experience with the JCWP.

Lowe's has played an important role for the Habitat for Humanity and the JCWP, Jackson said. It is the major sponsor and has contributed $250,000 between money and materials for the the JCWP. Lowe's was also doing its part by having about 15 volunteers joining the Valdosta Junior Service League for the CLIP training, Jackson said.

Lowe's has also donated $250,000 each to the other JCWPs located in LaGrange and Anniston, Ala., John Hunt, human resources manager at Lowe's said. "We're very active in Valdosta," he said. "We've always donated materials and individuals. It's fun when you know you're helping somebody else."

To contact reporter Rip Prine, please call 244-3400, ext. 237.

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