"The fireplace was lit, the food was fantastic and the crowd was diminished but dedicated to learning more about Habitat for Humanity," said Linda Schelin, a Habitat volunteer and one of the event organizers.
The special event included the presentation of awards to seven different individuals who have contributed to the success of the local Habitat organization. Karen Nevin, past Habitat president, presented a framed collage with photos of all five completed Habitat houses to Greg Davis, Anthony Schneller, Lupe Chavez, Debbie Berger, Ron Overeem and Dayton Mackey. Lawrence Weston was also honored but unable to attend the luncheon.
Davis, owner of DAVCO Plumbing, along with his employees Schneller and Chavez, were honored for providing all the labor for plumbing the Habitat homes free of charge. Debbie Berger received the Habitat award on behalf of her husband, Bob Berger, past president of Wintech. The local window manufacturer has donated all the windows for the Habitat homes. Weston was honored for donating the electrical work on the homes.
Mackey and Overeem were recognized for their ongoing support of Habitat. Overeem is one of the founding members of the local Habitat organization and has been integrally involved in overseeing construction of all five Habitat homes.
After awards were presented, Schelin provided an overview of the history of Habitat in the local area and a review of the organization's successes.
The Monett-Purdy affiliate was officially formed in December 2003. Since its creation, the local Habitat group has completed five houses with the support of local businesses, individuals and partner families. The first Habitat house was completed in February 2005 and the fifth house will dedicated within the next 60 days. Work on the sixth house will begin this spring.
The guiding principle of Habitat is to eliminate poverty housing by building modest homes for families in need. Volunteer labor is used to keep building costs low, and partner families pay a down payment along with monthly mortgage payments and also invest at least 400 hours of their own labor to help build their home.
"We are always looking for groups to sponsor a house, part of a house or a Saturday work day," said Schelin.
"With God's help we will continue to build houses and serve families providing hope, community, tolerance and dream fulfillment," concluded Schelin.
Bill Van Eaton, a member of the local Habitat board, offered information on the organization's Ground Breakers program, which was launched to provide start-up money to cover early construction costs on Habitat homes.
Under the program, individuals or businesses, called "Ground Breakers," commit to donating at least $100 at the time of the groundbreaking for each new home.
"We owe a big thank you to this group of caring, giving people," said Van Eaton. "Pledges of $100 or more assure that we can start homes in a timely manner. We would like to ask others to consider being a ground breaker, offering a hand up not a handout."
Ron Stair, current Habitat president, closed the meeting. During his remarks, he compared the volunteer's heart to Micah 6:8, "what does the Lord require of you, but to do justice and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God."
The lunch and meeting were funded by the Robert and Francis Chaney Foundation. Local Habitat officials are making plans to host another luncheon for businesses in mid-March.
Businesses who would like to get involved with supporting Habitat can call 235-8072 for more information. Habitat board members are also available to go into businesses to make presentations about the Habitat program.