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Habitat Homes for Deserving Families

Hanging siding Habitat House

Habitat Build (yes, one of these women is me!)

Most people are familiar with Habitat for Humanity, an organization that builds homes for families using mostly volunteer labor and often donated or discounted materials. President Jimmy Carter did a lot to make people aware of the good work they do by his involvement with this fine organization. In addition to building homes, Habitat “deconstructs” homes and uses the recovered materials in other building projects. Finally, Habitat operates ReStores that are run by volunteers, and that accept contributions of a variety of new or recycled household items (paint, flooring, light fixtures, etc.) that they then resell to the public.

I recently worked on a Habitat house for the second time (the first time was many years ago).

This particular project was designated a Women Build home, with a requirement that 75% of the volunteers must be women (men are NOT prohibited). There were both men and women on the site with construction expertise who could coach us and demonstrate proper use of power tools and construction techniques. (I had never put up exterior vinyl siding or used a table saw, but it isn’t difficult with proper coaching!)

The home I worked on has an interesting history. In 2012 a freaky tragic accident took the life of a woman when a young drunk driver lost control of her car and smashed into a house on a corner lot, hitting it so hard that half of the house was demolished and the tenant, a 57 year old woman who had fallen asleep watching TV on the couch in her living room, was killed.

[The driver] reportedly attempted to turn the car southbound, but instead hit a fire hydrant and drove straight into the living room. Officials said the fire hydrant was hit with such force that it flew through the wall of the home and out the other side.

The woman who died in the tragedy rented the home, and subsequently the wrecked house was razed, and the owner of the property donated it to Habitat. Volunteers now are building a new small 3-bedroom house, of a size and style that blends with the neighborhood, that a hard-working young single mother with two active boys soon will own and occupy.

This is how Habitat for Humanity works, from the local (St. Joseph County, IN) Habitat website:

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I retired from the University of Notre Dame in the Office of Information Technology in 2010. I'm divorced, with two grown children and 8 grandchildren. I'm a lifelong liberal and a "nonbeliever."