Their house — and the four adjacent homes – were built through the Saturn Hands on Homes program, a cooperative effort by General Motors’ Saturn division, Detroit area-Saturn retailers, Habitat for Humanity Detroit and Jon Bon Jovi’s Philadelphia Soul Foundation.

At a ceremony today, the new home in Detroit’s Morning Side neighborhood was the first of five Saturn Hands on Home houses to be officially dedicated. English will live in the new home with daughters Robyn (17) and Raven (20).

Saturn’s headquarters is in Detroit, a city hit particularly hard by current economic troubles, and Saturn’s local retailers volunteered to lead this effort. “Saturn retailers have always felt that it is our responsibility to give back to the communities that have supported our business,” said Carl Galeana, owner of Saturn of Warren and Saturn of Lakeside. “In these difficult times, that commitment is more important than ever.”

Saturn has a history of giving back to the community, through rebuilding playgrounds, supporting efforts to provide affordable housing, or hosting National Donor Day to boost awareness of and encourage blood, organ and marrow donations.

At a ceremony this summer at the Saturn Hands on Homes build site, musician Jon Bon Jovi joined other community leaders to kick-off the construction of the five homes. Since then, hundreds of volunteers – including many Saturn team members and customers – have contributed their labor to build the homes.

A personal statement from Bon Jovi was read at the dedication ceremony:

“On behalf of the Philadelphia Soul Foundation I’d like to congratulate our five families and thank the volunteers whose hard work and commitment to their community means that, this year, more families get to celebrate the holidays at home. Since July these families have dedicated hours of ‘sweat equity,’ hand in hand with their neighbors, Habitat Detroit and Saturn. Saturn, who has long focused on making quality, affordable automobiles for everyday Americans, has been a great partner with us over several builds around the country. Their desire to play a positive role in the communities where they do business sets a premier example.”

In addition to the Detroit initiative, the Philadelphia Soul Foundation has provided funding to build or renovate affordable housing units in Philadelphia, Brooklyn, N.Y., Colorado Springs, Colo., Atlanta, Los Angeles and Houma, La.
Habitat for Humanity is a Christian ministry that works in partnership with people from all walks of life to revitalize neighborhoods through the construction of affordable homes for families who do not qualify for conventional mortgages. Habitat partner families invest 250-400 hours of their own “sweat equity” into building their homes and the homes of others.

“Our community is facing difficult times,” said Vincent Tilford, executive director of Habitat for Humanity Detroit, “It is gratifying to see that business such as Saturn and it retail partners, along with the Philadelphia Soul Foundation, still see the importance of remembering those in need.”

During the past 22 years, Habitat for Humanity Detroit has built or renovated more than 296 affordable homes for low-income working families across the city. Since 2005, the organization has been working with U-SNAP-BAC, an East Side community development organization, and the MorningSide Community Organization to redevelop a 16-block area on Detroit’s East Side.

This effort builds on the momentum started by U-SNAP-BAC that includes the construction of 120 new housing and rental units.

Holiday Green

In keeping Saturn’s strong commitment to the environment, all houses built by the Saturn Hands on Homes feature green practices and technologies. These environmentally-sensitive features reduce the home’s energy consumption, lower utility expenses and make the home more affordable for the new homeowner. Specific features include:

-- Efficient, Energy Star-rated appliances
-- Rinnai on-demand hot water heaters
-- High-efficiency furnaces
-- Extra-low-VOC interior paint
-- Fully recyclable carpet made of 60-percent recycled materials
-- Low-volume water toilets
-- Drywall made from the ashes of coal-burning power plants
-- Trees and "green" landscaping using low-maintenance plants
-- Rain barrels to collect water for landscape care in a planned
          community garden

SOURCE General Motors Corporation