Rays begin home-build project for local family

ST. PETERSBURG -- Let the building begin.

On Thursday morning, the Rays began the construction for the five-week build of a Habitat for Humanity home for a family of six. The effort is part of the organization's "Rays Up for Our Community" program.

In addition to the Rays funding the home, staff members from the organization will be volunteering hours of their time.

"All Rays employees are dedicated to our mission of energizing the community through the magic of Rays baseball, and we appreciate that the main way we do that is through our baseball team," said team president Brian Auld, who addressed the group prior to the beginning of their workday. "However, it makes all of our jobs a little more meaningful to see the direct impact we have in improving the lives of so many in Tampa Bay."

Work done on Thursday included setting up the trusses for the roof and the interior framing. Tentatively, the planned dedication day for the completion of the project is Feb. 8. Once completed, the home will belong to Jason and Rashida Cherman and their two daughters and two sons.

"Working with Habitat for Humanity is one of our favorite projects, both because their staff is so wonderful and because we get to see the physical results of our work," Auld said. "We will put in over 1,000 volunteer hours on this home, and when we're done, Jason and Rashida and their family will realize their dream of home ownership."

Since 1985, Habitat for Humanity of Pinellas County has constructed 390 homes for struggling families in Pinellas County, using locally raised funds. Volunteers and the future homeowners construct the homes, which are sold at no profit and financed with a zero-interest loan.

Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.