Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

August 29, 2013

A team effort

Teens build wall panels for next Greenup Habitat Home

The Independent

ASHLAND — Greenup County Habitat for Humanity does not know where the next residence it builds will be located, but that has not prevented it from beginning construction. In fact, in just five days more than 100 students and their parents constructed 54 wall panels for the home. That means when a location is found for the home and a family is selected to purchase it though a no-interest Habitat loan, the time it takes to build the home will be greatly reduced.

Crossroads Missions (crossroadmissions.org) in Louisville provided the building plans and how-to leadership for the home; Bridges Christian Church, Greenup Christian Church, Raceland Christian Church and Oldtown Christian Church provided the funding; and Howell’s Mill Christian Assembly camp (howellsmill.org) in Ona provided the building site and organized 90 high school-aged campers and about 20 parents to build the wall panels.

“I attended two days of the building period to also assist with building the panels and watched the campers have a lot of fun,” said Michael Garlinger, Greenup County Habitat for Humanity construction coordinator. “It was obvious that some of the students had never hammered a nail before, but by the end of the week everyone was having fun and contributing to the construction of the wall panels.”

The novice student carpenters are not the first to learn construction skills while helping to build Habitat homes. In fact, since it was founded in Georgia more than 30 years ago, thousands of volunteers throughout the world have become skilled carpenters by volunteering for Habitat. Many also have learned such skills as plumbing a new home and installing the electrical wiring.

But most Habitat volunteers do not give of their time because they want to learn construction skills. They give because they believe in Habitat’s mission. Habitat builds homes for the working poor who do not earn enough money to qualify for a traditional home mortgages. But by not charging interest on its loans, Habitat greatly reduces the monthly payments on its loans. In turn, those payments raise money for new Habitat homes. That’s why a gift to Habitat continues to help the organization long after the money is donated.

Families that receive the new homes must put in hundreds of hours in “sweat equity” during construction so that when the home is completed, they are moving into a new residence that they know well and are committed to its upkeep because they helped build it.

When all the panels were finished, the house was assembled on the Howells Mill’s basketball court to test the final assembly, Garlinger said. During a blessing service for the assembled house, all of the campers signed the walls with messages for the family who will receive the new home. The panels were then disassembled and trucked to Greenup County for storage.

“We are so grateful for the support of these organizations and volunteers and look forward to when we can turn this house over to its new owner,” Garlinger said.

Garlinger said the panels are being kept in storage while Habitat looks for a suitable location to build Greenup County Habitat’s third house. Anyone who knows of a possible site may call (606) 836-0421 or leave a message on the organization’s website, greenupcountyhabitat.org.

We commend all of those who gave of their time to help build the wall panels. While we are certain that it was fun, it also was hard work. Our hope is that the teens and their parents finished the panels not only as more skilled carpenters, but also as individuals even more committed to making a difference in their community.