Habitat director named Newsmaker of the Year

Marilyn Tennissen Jun. 14, 2007, 5:00am

Uliana Trylowsky, executive director of Beaumont Habitat for Humanity, was chosen Newsmaker of the Year by the Press Club of Southeast Texas.

Uliana Trylowsky, executive director of Beaumont Habitat for Humanity, was chosen Newsmaker of the Year by the Press Club of Southeast Texas.

Trylowski was recognized for successfully completing the largest home building project in the organization's history. She received the honor at the Press Club's 16th annual Excellence in the Media and Newsmaker of the Year Awards on June 8 at the Lamar University Reception Center.

When Trylowsky joined Beaumont Habitat in May 2004, the 25-year-old organization had built 43 houses, an average of four dwellings per year.

Her first accomplishment as executive director was to quadruple the number of local Habitat volunteers. Then on Sept. 24, 2005, Hurricane Rita struck Southeast Texas. Thousands of residents lost their homes, and Habitat's efforts became even more focused.

Although the offices and warehouse of Beaumont Habitat were destroyed by the storm, Trylowsky and her team would not sit by while so many others were in even more desperate need. Trylowsky began a damage assessment by hosting a team from Habitat International and joined Operation Home Delivery, a program specifically to aid regions devastated by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

In December 2005, Trylowsky launched the Rita Recovery Program in the back of what remained of the Habitat warehouse. Trylowsky and her board committed to building more than 20 homes for hurricane-affected families in 2006.

Without tools, trucks, staff, volunteers and money, Trylowsky turned to Habitat International. Through grant applications, her office was able to secure funds for tools, equipment and increased staffing. Her work was noticed by Habitat International in Atlanta, which donated a Nissan truck to the Beaumont affiliate.

On Jan. 24, 2006, the Beaumont Rita Recovery Program was launched on Amarillo Street in Beaumont, the site of the first of 21 homes that would be built by Beaumont Habitat for Humanity over the next 11 months.

More than 700 volunteers from 20 different states gave more than 30,000 hours of construction time to the most ambitious building project in Beaumont Habitat's history.

After the successes in Beaumont in 2006, Trylowsky then expanded the program to include Port Arthur and Sabine Pass. In 2007, the organization is on its way to building another 20 houses for hurricane affected families in Jefferson county.

Previous Newsmaker of the Year recipients have included Joe Domino, president of Entergy Texas; Regina Roger, philanthropist; Evelyn Lord, Spindletop 2001 Commission chairman; James Simmons, Lamar University president; Billy Rowles, Jasper County Sheriff; Mark Stiles, state representative; Nick Lampson, U.S. Representative; Richard LeBlanc, Jefferson County judge; and Bob Wortham, U.S. Attorney.

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