Macon Area Habitat for Humanity, Mercer University Student Chapter Recognized at National Conference in Washington, D.C.


MACON – As part of the 10th annual Habitat on the Hill conference Feb. 2-4 in Washington, D.C., Macon Area Habitat for Humanity (MAHFH), supported by the efforts of Mercer University's student chapter, received one of two 2016 Advocacy Awards for working to combat blight in Middle Georgia.

“The 2016 Advocacy Awards are designed to recognize and highlight the outstanding advocacy efforts being implemented around the world throughout the Habitat network,” said Carolyn Tilney, project specialist for Habitat for Humanity International's Washington, D.C., office.

Blossom Thao, vice president of Mercer's chapter, joined Harold Tessendorf, executive director of MAHFH, in the nation's capital for the three-day conference, during which more than 200 Habitat representatives from across the country urged federal lawmakers to support program and policies that promote safe, decent and affordable homeownership opportunities.

“This conference has opened my perspective of Habitat for Humanity outside of Mercer and the Macon area to a more global perspective because I have met people from all over the world,” said Thao. 

Thao and Tessendorf gave a presentation on MAHFH's “Blight Out of Sight” campaign, which was launched in 2014 to begin demolition on some of the 118 blighted homes in Macon's Lynmore Estates neighborhood.

Blighted properties are vacant or abandoned properties that are unfit for human habitation, a public nuisance and/or structurally unsound with imminent danger of vagrants. The presence of such homes can devastate neighborhoods by reducing property values and inviting crime.

While visiting Capitol Hill, Thao and Tessendorf met with Georgia's senators and representatives to share the work of MAHFH and discuss policy priorities, including much-needed housing finance reform. Other policy priorities included programs like the Self-Help Homeownership Program (SHOP), the HOME Investments Partnership Program and the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS).

“This national recognition of our affiliate's work around blight, in partnership with so many other local agencies, our local government and neighborhood groups is very encouraging,” said Tessendorf. “We are thrilled with the progress that our community is making towards addressing Macon-Bibb's blight problem and look forward to continuing to work with our elected officials and local partners to reduce blight in Macon-Bibb.”

For more information on MAHFH, visit

Kyle is senior director of media relations at Mercer. In addition to being the primary media contact for most academic and administrative units of the university, he serves as editor of the Mercerian alumni magazine and News@Mercer e-newsletters, and he coordinates hometown and university news releases.