Posted Wednesday, May 22, 2019 10:15 am
By COLBY DENTON
Habitat for Humanity of Cleveland has a large, diverse mixture of volunteers who come year after year to help provide affordable housing. However, none of these people are as long-serving as the members of its Legacy Build crew.
The crew which is comprised of some volunteers who have served since the organization was formed 33 years ago.
Habitat executive director Tammy Johnson described the Legacy Build as being made up of “core volunteers.”
“This is the first build of 2019. We’ve got a second, third and fourth home going up this year as well,” Johnson said.
On a typical build for a Habitat home, Mondays and Wednesdays are the days for subcontractors to come work on the site. Tuesdays and Thursdays are when core volunteers come out and Fridays and Saturdays are when sponsor groups come out to work.
Depending on what the sponsor groups complete, their skill level and whether they are impeded by weather or not, the core volunteers will speed up or slow down the process to ensure the work is completed on time. The building process takes right at 12 weeks.
Johnson said the Habitat ReStore volunteers help with each build through their work in the ReStore as well. They do this by sorting and pricing items every week, which in turn promotes profitability for the ReStore, which helps build more homes.
Using volunteer work helps keep the construction costs low for Habitat, thus allowing them to continue building more affordable houses.
Chuck Haney and Ed McCartney are two Habitat Legacy volunteers who are happy to return because of the good they’ve seen their work do.
Haney has worked with Habitat for 26 years. McCartney has worked with it for 20 years. While Haney is more involved with the construction aspect of Habitat, McCartney works in the ReStore predominantly.
McCartney is credited with starting Habitat of Cleveland’s silent auction, which has raised over $140,000 in its seven years of operation. The silent auction selects 24 items out of pieces donated to Habitat, and after research is conducted on them, the items are added to the auction for two weeks. The items can be viewed at the ReStore or on Habitat of Cleveland’s Facebook page.
“We’ve gotten to where people will ask that their donated items go into the silent auction because they don’t wanna see one of their favorite antiques sell for less than it’s worth,” McCartney said. “It not only raises money, but also generates traffic into the store to see what’s there.”
Both men said keeping busy and active is an integral reason they return every year, but the more important factor is seeing the good results generated through Habitat.
Haney encourages people who wonder what kind of impact they’ll have by supporting Habitat to take a drive through a Habitat community and see the beautiful difference made in these families’ lives.
Don Rollins was another Legacy builder whose large impact can still be felt today. After Rollins had to hang up his tool belt due to health reasons, Habitat of Cleveland established the Don Rollins Legacy Fund in his honor, which collects donations distributed among each home built that year. That way, Rollins is continuing to “build” on the homes.
Other organizations also support Habitat. One is the George R. Johnson Foundation, whose funding alone helps build half a home.
Johnson made it a point to also praise the fervent and continued support of Broad Street United Methodist Church, which is where Habitat of Cleveland first originated. Having supported Habitat’s mission from the first house’s inception, Broad Street continues to support the organization as it builds its 136th home.
“Broad Street puts Christian love into action, which is what we need for the strength and stability of our organization,” Johnson said.
This year, the four future Habitat homeowners are all first-time homeowners. Contrary to popular belief, however, first-time homeowners can come in a variety of forms, ranging from young couples to seniors who’ve never bought a home to people who are on fixed incomes. The Legacy build's future owner is Dale Ware.
“These are good, hardworking people, they just can’t afford a typical mortgage,” Johnson added.
“The thing you’ll always remember about a home dedication is how a little kid will be so excited about his new room, something he’s never had before, and that shows you why it’s all worth it,” McCartney said.
For more information on the variety of builds taking place this year and for years to come, check out Habitat of Cleveland’s website at https://habitatofcleveland.org/ or go to its Facebook page.
Habitat of Cleveland is located at 300 Grove Avenue and can be reached at 423-473-4610.