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TODAY
updated 9/26/2005 4:07:45 PM ET 2005-09-26T20:07:45

NBC News "Today," Habitat for Humanity International and Warner Music Group are joining forces in an unprecedented effort to help the Gulf Coast rebuild one nail at a time. Beginning Monday, September 26, Rockefeller Plaza will become "Humanity Plaza" for five days as homes are literally built around the clock for families displaced by Hurricane Katrina.  Millions of dollars have already been raised for Habitat through this endeavor, and the partners have pledged to build a minimum of 100 homes over the course of the project that will be executed over the next two months.

As the exclusive broadcast partner, "Today" will follow the progress of the first phase of homes, and be there as Habitat for Humanity delivers them to families that they previously selected. The families will be profiled on “Today.” The project will be supported by thousands of citizens - including current Habitat employees and volunteers, employees of NBC Universal and Warner Music Group, and visitors to the Plaza throughout the week. Celebrities and musicians from NBC Universal and Warner's vast rosters will join the efforts by raising hammers, and even some microphones with special performances throughout the week of the 26th, including a kickoff concert on that Monday.

“We are thrilled to be partnering with Warner Music Group and Habitat for Humanity to help in the efforts to rebuild the Gulf Coast,” said Bob Wright, Vice Chairman of GE, and Chairman and CEO, NBC Universal. “The hundreds of NBC employees who are still stationed in the region, have just returned, or have been covering the story from home base, all share the same hope — to help the victims and rebuild the region, and we know that “Make a Difference Today” will do just that.”

"Warner Music Group's artists and employees are pleased to partner with ‘Today’ and Habitat for Humanity to build homes and provide other critical assistance to those who continue to suffer from the Hurricane Katrina catastrophe," said Edgar Bronfman, Jr., Chairman and CEO of Warner Music Group.  "As the only major American music company, we recognize that much of our musical culture was created in this historic and unique part of the United States.  Warner Music Group is grateful for the opportunity to participate in this initiative and many others to help get people back on their feet and begin to recover from this unprecedented tragedy."

“Habitat for Humanity is poised to deliver an unprecedented response to an unprecedented natural disaster,” said Chris Clarke, Senior Vice President of Communications, for Habitat for Humanity International. “To do so, to rebuild the lives of families who have lost so much and provide the ‘hand up’ that is the hallmark of our work will require an unprecedented level of support. Next week, the world will watch Humanity Plaza come alive as hearts and hammers pound the first nails in our recovery efforts.”

This project will produce the very first Habitat for Humanity homes — dubbed “houses in a box” — that will arrive in the region.  The goal of the project — which will unfold in phases over the next few months — is to build a minimum of 100 homes by its completion.  In addition, millions of dollars are expected to be raised to facilitate countless more homes being built in the region in the future. 

Following the initial "construction" week on the plaza, "Today" will travel with the homes as they are delivered to the communities.  The homes will leave the plaza for the transport on Friday, September 30.  On Monday, October 3, as they are delivered and the installations begin, "Today" will mark the occasion with a special performance.

Humanity Plaza, while serving as a construction zone, will also serve as a destination for viewers and visitors to get involved and learn about ways to help the victims of Katrina. Tishman Speyer has graciously partnered on this project to provide the space and assistance to make this massive undertaking possible. Other organizations involved in Katrina relief will also be represented, including the Salvation Army, and animal organizations such as the North Shore Animal League, the Humane Society of the United States, and the Animal Veterinary Medical Foundation. 

Children can send personal wishes to the families who will receive the new houses by visiting the Scholastic “Books Make a Home” tent at Humanity Plaza.  Here, kids can write messages or draw pictures on special bookplates, which will be inserted in every book in a collection of 100 children’s books that Scholastic will donate with each new house. Children and parents can also pick-up age-appropriate information on Hurricane Katrina in Scholastic’s classroom magazines, Scholastic News and Junior Scholastic, as well as tips for parents on how to talk with their children about this natural disaster and other current events.  Children, parents and teachers who cannot visit Humanity Plaza can visit www.scholastic.com/humanityplaza to download a template of the bookplate which can be mailed to Scholastic, who will then forward it on the families.

MSNBC.com will have a special section of the “Today” page dedicated to “Make a Difference Today” with general information about the project, information and links for all the organizations, video gallery, celebrity slideshow and more, all of which can be found at www.today.msnbc.com.

Images of "Humanity Plaza" will be made available on NBC's Media Village website at www.nbcmv.com.

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About NBC News’ “Today”
NBC News pioneered the morning news program when it launched “Today” over 53 years ago, with Dave Garroway as host. The three-hour live broadcast provides the latest in domestic and international news, weather reports and interviews with newsmakers from the worlds of politics, business, media, entertainment and sports. After more than 48 years of the standard two-hour format, the third hour was launched in October of 2000, making “Today” the only three-hour national morning show broadcast. The program is unparalleled in its ratings dominance in the morning news arena, serving as America’s overwhelming favorite for nearly ten consecutive years.

Phil Griffin, Senior Vice President overseeing “Today” is the executive in charge of the “Make a Difference Today” project. Mark Lukasiewicz, Vice President and Executive Producer NBC News Specials and Special Projects is the executive in charge of Humanity Plaza. Jim Bell is the Executive Producer of “Today” (Monday - Friday, 7 to 10 a.m.). 

About Warner Music Group
Warner Music Group (WMG) became the only stand-alone music company to be publicly traded in the United States in May 2005. With its broad roster of new stars and legendary artists, Warner Music Group is home to a collection of the best-known record labels in the music industry including Atlantic, Bad Boy, Elektra, Lava, Maverick, Nonesuch, Reprise, Rhino, Sire, Warner Bros. and Word. Warner Music International, a leading company in national and international repertoire operates through numerous international affiliates and licensees in more than 50 countries. Warner Music Group also includes Warner/Chappell Music, one of the world's leading music publishers, with a catalog of more than one million copyrights worldwide. 

About Habitat for Humanity International
Habitat for Humanity International, based in Americus, Ga., is an ecumenical Christian ministry that welcomes to its work all people dedicated to the cause of eliminating poverty housing. Since 1976, Habitat has built more than 200,000 houses in nearly 100 countries, providing simple, decent and affordable shelter for one million people. www.habitat.org.

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