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Sunday, Sep. 25, 2016

Habitate for Humanity goals outlined for Kiwanians

Monday, December 14, 2009

The mission and the accomplishments of the Monett-Purdy affiliate of Habitat for Humanity were detailed at last week's meeting of the Monett Kiwanis Club. Linda Schelin, founding board member and past chairman, provided insight into where the organization is going as its fourth home nears completion.

Schelin recounted helping lead a vacation Bible school program in 2002 using Habitat as its theme. Children attending the progam attended a home dedication. Shortly thereafter Walt Hamer, then president of the Monett Ministerial Association, approached Schelin about serving as chairman of a steering committee considering setting up a Habitat affiliate in Monett.

"Our committee researched for several months and found that our surrounding community did have a need," Schelin said.

The Monett group organized and received official affiliation in December 2003. A territory was established that covered the Monett R-1 School District, extending north, including Freistatt. Pierce City, Purdy and McDowell were also included. Other area affiliates have been established in Aurora, Cassville and Neosho.

Habitat builds "simple, decent affordable houses for those in need," Schelin said. Need is assessed by looking at a family's safety, the availability of adequate space and rent being paid for the quality and size of a residence. Families who contract with Habitat to get a home must have adequate income to pay off a 20-year interest-free loan.

Participating families are usually required to put in a minimum of 400 hours of work on the house itself, described as "sweat equity." Family members also have to participate in the construction of future homes, Schelin said.

Habitat homes are approximately 1,200 square feet, usually have three bedrooms, up to two bathrooms, a kitchen, living room plus a porch on both the front and rear. Framing, painting, concrete work and landscaping is done by Habitat volunteers.

Professional work such as electricity, plumbing, roofing and bricking are done by subcontractors. Schelin said many of the local professionals participating donate all or part of their labor. The Habitat affiliate usually buys the materials.

Special recognition was extended to contractor Jim Copeland, who works as construction supervisor on the affiliate's houses. Davis and Son Plumbing and electrician Lawrence Weston have played instrumental roles in finishing homes at a limited cost, Schelin said. WinTech has donated windows for every home. Whirlpool has donated appliances. A financial arrangement with Thrivent for Lutherans has also boosted the program, she said.

"Funds for houses come from local businesses, churches, social organizations such as Kiwanis, foundations, grants, director's donations and special fundraising events such as the Christmas homes tour," Schelin said.

The Habitat board has a minimum of 12 members serving two-year terms and attending monthly meetings. According to Schelin, other volunteers serve in committees working on construction, family selection, family support, church relations, fundraising and publicity.

"We currently have about 100 names in our data base and about one third of them do the actual building," said Schelin.

The first house sold for $42,500. The second house, at Third and Wishart, sold for $48,000. The third, at Eighth and Cale, sold for $66,500. The fourth house, at 303 County Road, is presently under construction. Schelin said the affiliate has accepted the donation of land on East Nellie Street in return for paying off three years of back taxes and closing costs.

"Every Habitat affiliate is encouraged to follow the economics of Jesus," Schelin said. "Therefore we are required to tithe all undesignated funds to help build houses in other parts of the world."

Local efforts have sent more than $15,000 to help build homes in Nicaragua, Guatemala, Indonesia, Haiti and China. Construction typically runs less than one-tenth of local cost to build in these countries, Schelin said.

While tithing usually does not support construction in the United States, Schelin said the local affiliate was about to commit some funds to relief in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.

As the organization looks to the future, Schelin said there is always a need for site workers and board members. Representation from Purdy, Butterfield and McDowell is now being sought.

"Another current goal is to build one new house and re-hab another every year," Schelin said.

One way the public can help is by participating in the Ground Breakers Club. Schelin said club partners pledge a minimum of $50 per house. Those striving for home ownership are supported by "encouraging the community to participate with their time, talent and financial aid," Schelin said.

Applications for families seeking to work with Habitat to get their own home are available at the Monett Chamber of Commerce office, 200 E. Broadway. The application must to completed in full, Each applicant undergoes an interview by the family selection committee, which includes a visit to the applicant's home.

Kiwanis President Randy Henderson presided at the meeting. Lisa Balmas was the program chairman.

During the meeting, Jon Suit, club secretary, inducted Tyler Laney, director of the Southwest Area Career Center, and Norman Hammond, owner of the Dentist's Choice, as new members.

The Monett Kiwanis Club meets on Tuesdays at noon for a meal and a program, usually at Happy House restaurant.

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