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Mt. Pleasant News   Wash Journal
Neighbors Growing Together | Aug 15, 2018

Habitat home dedicated

By Andy Hallman, Ledger news editor | Jun 14, 2018
Photo by: ANDY HALLMAN/Ledger photo Greater Fairfield Area Habitat for Humanity board members pose with Tomra Small on the porch of her recently completed Habitat home at 505 W. Madison Ave., where a dedication was held Sunday. Pictured are, from left, Shanaz Kreider, Amber McDowell, Deb Johnson, Kerry Richards (in back), Tomra Small with children Connor, left, and Aiden, right, and construction manager Kathy Brown.

Greater Fairfield Area Habitat for Humanity held a dedication at its recently completed home Sunday.

The home is located at 505 W. Madison Ave., and will house Tomra Small and her two boys: Aiden, 11, and Connor, 9.

The dedication included a ceremony in which Habitat board members presented Small with bread, salt and wine, a tradition taken from the film “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Bread: That this house may never know hunger; salt: that it may always have flavor; and wine: that joy and prosperity may reign forever.

This marked the second year that students from Fairfield High School played a significant role in building the Habitat house. In fact, the students build the house as part of a class taught by industrial technology instructor Shawn Peck. The students, of which there were eight, spend the final two class periods of the day at the job site for nearly the entire school year.

“We had a little bit of course prep work at the beginning of the year,” Peck said. “I wanted to know that the kids knew how to be safe, what to expect, and the rules of coming here from the high school. I can only think of two or three school days that we didn’t work here.”

The students arrived at the site to find a concrete slab. They proceeded to frame and set the walls, set the rafters, install the insulation, siding and drywall. They set the windows and doors, too, with instruction from Dick Reed.

Peck said the students needed to have taken Woods I so they had some background in how to run a saw, but much of their training was on-the-job.

“Nailing together 2 x 4s is not new to them, but doing siding and setting doors would be new,” he said. “I would think that if they were looking for a summer job, and get that interview question, ‘What have you done?’ they’ll be able to point to this.”

Peck said six students have already signed up for next year’s build.

Habitat’s Kathy Brown supervised the construction. She said the high-schoolers did most of the work, and what they didn’t was done by volunteers from groups like the Young Professionals of Fairfield and Jefferson County Health Center, which painted the walls and ceilings. Earl McCabe helped with the ceilings, and John Marble did the cabinets. Volunteers from Hy-Vee helped with siding.

Habitat had to raise $118,000 for the project, which it did, obviating the need for a bank loan.

“That was a godsend,” Brown said. “When we went from building every other year to building every year, that was pretty scary. Instead of raising $50,000-$60,000, we had to raise $100,000-$120,000 a year. This community has stepped up.”

Some volunteers bake cookies year-round. The high-schoolers look forward to Fridays because that’s the day cookies are served.

Small said she learned last summer she had qualified for a Habitat house. Recipients must put in sweat equity, either by helping with construction or volunteering at Habitat ReStore.

“In the beginning, I couldn’t do a lot because it involved so much heavy machinery, so I volunteered at the Restore,” she said. “Later, we did drywall, which is hard, and then painting. The drywall was one of the toughest parts.”

Small works 45 hours per week at Fairfield Hy-Vee, and was able to spend a few hours each week in the afternoon. She said she’s happy to move from her old residence in low-income apartments.

She said it wasn’t a good environment to raise a family, and said feels much better now that she’ll live on West Madison.

“I learned a lot through this process,” she said. “I learned how to drywall, how to mud and paint more efficiently.”

Amber McDowell and Kerry Richards are a few Habitat board members. McDowell works for Libertyville Savings Bank, which pushed to get the high-schoolers involved.

“Not every kid goes to college, so this was a great option for high school students to learn to build a house,” she said. “We gave the high school $4,500 last year to start this project, and this year we bought the trailer for them to put all their stuff in.”

Richards runs Habitat’s committee “Brush with Kindness,” which finds homes that need paint or yard work.

“We get a group of volunteers together for a weekend project, and help somebody who can’t do it themselves,” he said.

 

 

 

 

 

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