By Frank Lewis
Paul White, President of Scioto County Habitat for Humanity has reduced the reason so many people volunteer to help building houses to a single point.
“A lot of people live in substandard housing,” White said as he took a break from teaching a young man the fine points of operating a power saw. “I saw that a lot when I was in the school system and I wanted to help do something to end it.”
A group of volunteers, including local people such as Jim Climer, a member of the Habitat board; Jeff Hamilton, Hamilton Construction and Joe Donini, volunteer and a group of people from Mercy Home for Boys and Girls in Chicago, were busy digging around the foundation for the newest Scioto County Habitat for Humanity home at 1426 Findlay St., though the frontage of the house will, when finished, be facing 15th Street in Portsmouth, Monday morning.
“We are a home for abused, abandoned and troubled children ages 11 through 21,” Mark Schmeltzer said, speaking from Mercy Home. “We’re located on two campuses in Chicago. One for boys and one for girls. We don’t take guardianship of these children. It’s not like a foster home. They generally have guardians but they are usually from situations of abuse or violence or chaotic neighborhoods and households. We help them. We’re a therapeutic home. They come and live with us for a while and receive therapy. They also receive opportunities to learn and grow and to give back.”
Schmeltzer said the young men and women do several projects every year including one several years ago in which board member, TV personality Bill Rancic flew a group to Maine.
Schmeltzer said Mercy Home for Boys and Girls receives no government funding and operates strictly from donations. He said anyone wishing to assist the Mercy home financially, can get details at mercyhome.org.
Meanwhile, the work continues as the young people from the home keep the shovels moving throughout this week.
“This is the first phase that we have going,” White said. “The group from Chicgo is giving us a hand and we’re going to get the site prepped and get the sub-floor down and then on Saturday, Sept. 6, we’ll be bringing walls in that are built by a church in the Dayton area. The walls will already be pre-built and they will be bringing those in on a UPS truck and we’ll have the sub-floor in and we’ll just slide the walls off onto the floor and put them in place.”
White said the Findlay/15th Street house is the 12th built by the local Habitat organization. Upon approval, families agree to invest, depending on family size, 250-350 hours in sweat equity by house-building, volunteering and training, prior to moving into their new home. Training includes budgeting, financial literacy, homeownership and maintenance. Habitat Partner Families pay closing costs and purchase their finished home through an interest-free, no-profit mortgage. Habitat also requires on-time payment and regular upkeep.
For more information about Scioto County Habitat For Humanity visit www.sciotohabitat.org
Frank Lewis can be reached at 740-353-3101, Ext. 1928, or on Twitter @FrankLewispdt.