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Habitat turns house into home

Building hopes

September 16, 2009
The Crawford County Habitat for Humanity volunteers have started another project. This time, instead of building a new house, the group is concentrating on rebuilding an existing home.

In 1992, the first Habitat for Humanity house was completed in English. Since them, volunteers have built four other houses, some in Marengo, where they still have land available for three more houses to be built.

Volunteers work on a house being remodeled by Habitat for Humanity of Crawford County on Rothrock Lane. The house should be ready to sell by next spring. (Photo by Lee Cable)
But last winter, the group attended an auction and purchased a house off Rothrock Lane between Marengo and Carefree. The structure needed extensive remodeling, and volunteers worked some in May, then resumed work recently to get the project headed toward completion sometime next spring.

"Actually, Bob Crecelius, the vice president of our board, does 90 percent of our building," the Rev. Kevin Stilwell, board president, said as he watched another sheet of siding being nailed on the house. "He's the backbone of this organization in Crawford County and our driving force."

As Crecelius operated a saw, other volunteers used a nail gun to secure the siding and cut insulation to fit between the 2x4 studs. Thelma Neal, who bought the last house the group built in Marengo, volunteered to help clear weeds and debris from the front yard. Her son, Kyle Neal, and Wesley Pevlor and Terry Elliott helped tear off old siding and drywall. Even Anya Neal, 7, and Emily Gnadinger, 5, used brooms and a dustpan to help clean up inside the house to prepare for new floors to be installed.

But the group is looking for more volunteers to help with construction work and also soon will be taking applications from the public to purchase the house when it's finished.

"To apply, a person first needs to fill out an application," Stilwell said. "Then, they must put in 'equity hours' by volunteering 250 hours before they can move in. The home loans are handled by us, and they pay us, interest-free. Payments are usually lower than commercial loans, and everything they pay goes toward the principle."

The group is now planning to remodel the old NAPA building in English, that was donated by Crecelius, to use as a storage facility.

"We plan to make it into a warehouse," Stilwell said. "There's times when we can get large donations of building supplies and materials if we had a place to store them. When we complete the work on the building, we'll have plenty of storage space."

Every September, the group has a roadblock in Marengo to raise money.

"And in October, we'll have flyers coming out in the newspaper," Stilwell said. "In November, we'll have our annual turkey dinner at Crawford County Junior-Senior High School. We'll be making announcements about the event in the paper, also.

"But we really need, in addition to volunteers, a concession trailer to use for our snow-cone machine that we use to help raise money. We had a large tent that we used for that purpose, but it was destroyed in a high wind at the fair two years ago. We also need a flat-bed trailer to haul lumber and materials."

The group also is looking for a retired contractor who could volunteer during the week to supervise a crew.

"Many of us have jobs during the week and can only help on weekends," Stilwell added. "But there are some volunteers who are retired and can help out during the week if we had a supervisor. That would sure help move our projects along."

To volunteer or get more information, call Ed or Patty Conway at 365-2177 or Stilwell at 338-3207.

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