Blood, sweat and tears — of joy that is, will all go into the building of O’Fallon’s new Habitat For Humanity home before construction is finished.
With spring in O’Fallon’s wake, the non-profit Lewis & Clark Habitat For Humanity International, O’Fallon chapter, is getting the ball rolling on its second home for a local recipient and her children.
Local leaders and community members joined the Habitat for Humanity O’Fallon chapter Saturday for the site blessing at 122 Carson St. in O’Fallon. Pastor Robert Downs, of Faith Lutheran Church, presided over the blessing.
About 35 people attended the event, including local O’Fallon Ward 4 Alderman Herb Roach.
Roach said he wore multiple hats at the event, representing the City and the Noon Rotary Club, as well as acting as a liaison between the Habitat crew and volunteers and the three Rotary Clubs.
“We also had all three of the O’Fallon Rotary Clubs representing, which is nothing short of fantastic,” Roach said. “All three are not only helping the project monetarily, and with appliances, but are helping with labor in the build itself as many are volunteering.”
Beeman weighed in on the Rotarian’s role in the project.
“The Rotary Clubs of O’Fallon are the business movers and shakers. It’s allowing us to network with business people and local leaders we normally may not have crossed paths with otherwise, not to mention the funding and donations of appliances and materials, positive energy and support they are giving us,” Beeman said.
Unable to attend the ground breaking and site blessing, Illinois House Representative Mike Bost-R visited the site along with O’Fallon Mayor Gary Graham, Ward 4 Alderman Roach and Matt Smallheer; and, St. Clair County Boardman John West, Craig Hubbard and Fred Bach.
“We were fortunate for Congressman Bost to come all the way down to O’Fallon to see what the local Habitat For Humanity and Rotary Clubs in O’Fallon are doing for its residents,” Roach said. “He really seems to take an interest in being on the ground to stay in tune with local happenings.”
Beeman echoed praises for Bost.
“He said it has a really high impact to the local area, and it’s a mission that works. We all know it’s not anything fancy, but it’s clean and nice, and he was so happy about it that he offered his Belleville office resources and staff to come help on the house too, which they’re young and seem excited to help,” Beeman said.
O’Fallon resident and single, working mother of three Cherri Crunkfield latest recipient out of a pool of 10 applications that were narrowed down to five, and then three, by the selection committee for O’Fallon’s Habitat for Humanity chapter, Beeman said.
Prior to the selection process the chapter held three public meetings to inform the community and address questions and/or concerns about the upcoming project.
“We advertised at local schools, libraries and the food pantry. The applicant was required to have attended one of the three public meetings held, and then submit an application,” Beeman said. “We had about 40 people show up for the meetings, so we’ve been gaining more interest after the last home build in 2013.”
Crunkfield has three children, two boys and a girl, who all attend O’Fallon schools with the youngest being six and the oldest is 12-years-old.
Beeman said some of the qualifications include having good credit, the ability to make a modest down payment, and afford making monthly payments for a no-interest loan to cover the cost of real estate property taxes and home owner’s insurance.
“At this stage in the game Cherri really seems to have an all-in attitude and an ideal candidate, and is not only more than willing to work on the home, but wants to be in the loop for every detail — she shows up for everything,” Beeman said with a tone of sincerity.
Beeman said the recipient’s work isn’t over there, as “200-400 sweat equity hours must be logged by the recipient on the site during construction.”
“The kids are very nice, and surprisingly quiet and attentive,” Beeman said and laughed.
“I think what Habitat For Humanity is doing is fabulous, not just in that area, but also giving some families the opportunity to have their first home, and to be a part of something bigger than themselves,” Roach said. “It’s not like they are just handed a free home, it’s far more complex than that. The recipient must go through quite an extensive vetting process, have good credit and help with the home, plus other requirements too.”
Roach said there are a handful of other properties in that vicinity that have been secured by the Habitat chapter for future homes.
“This is a real positive for the area, especially if the Habitat chapter is successful in achieving its goal of sponsoring a home annually,” he said. “They want to help improve and rebuild that area (around Carson Street).”
Beeman confirmed Roach’s impressions.
“Our real goal is to be able to do a home a year. This is our second since we started our chapter in 2012, and we have three other lots to build on that we control, and if we can be successful with our fund-raising this may become an annual deal,” he said.
Nuts & bolts
The home will take about six months to build by volunteers, the new owner, and others interested in helping the local organization, which Beeman said is relatively normal.
“Commercial builders or contractors usually finish a home build in about three months, the difference with us is we’re using volunteer labor, and we have a lot of local businesses donate time and labor, as long as it doesn’t interfere with their daily business needs,” Beeman said.
Preferred Plumbing does the plumbing for the Habitat chapter homes, and O’Fallon Electric help supply the electrical components for the houses, too.
“Last time, Shiloh’s Wilke Window & Door provided discounted windows and doors. It wasn’t free, but man it cut a huge chunk out of our costs,” Beeman said.
Another local company that has provided invaluable service and supplies to the Habitat chapter’s projects is R.P. Lumber.
“They are a huge supporter. We run our building design plans to them and they provide us with a list of what we will need, but that’s not all. They will cut all the wood needed and take it down to the Southwest Correctional Facility in East St. Louis and the inmates there build all the walls for us,” Beeman said.
The inmates then will erect the house walls at the facility so the Habitat chapter staff and volunteers can do a walk through before it gets to the site, he said.
“They love it. Building, erecting, marking the walls for re-assembly purposes, as well as marking the subfloor, tearing down — it’s all because of the inmates, truly that the process is so seamless,” Beeman said. “And, their work isn’t done there. After R.P. Lumber picks up the walls from the facility and drops them off at the home site, we set a date sometime in mid-to-late May for the inmates to have a ‘get out of jail free day’ to come build along side us.”
“It’s a good deal all around, and it does make an impact for them being able to witness, meet and help the family that will make the recipient and her family feel safe at home, and they get some positive feedback for a change,” Beeman said.
Beeman said that is usually the first big volunteer day when all parties have fun paying it forward.
The cost to build a home for Habitat is in the ballpark of $40,000, Beeman said.
Scott Credit Union gifted the local Habitat chapter its first piece of land, while Navy Federal Credit Union helped raise awareness for the project by covering the cost and helping get door hanger ads out into the local community, according to Beeman.
The Rotary Clubs of O’Fallon are providing for the cabinets, counter tops, dishwasher and the over-the-range microwave oven, Beeman said.
Just three houses down the street lives Ria Haswell, the 2013 Habitat For Humanity O’Fallon chapter recipient.
“She’s doing very well in her home. I remember it like it was yesterday, her mom and step dad were thrilled for her to have a new home. She moved in on Thanksgiving Day, so we had a bunch of happy and thankful people that day,” Beeman said.
Habitat For Humanity International made its start in 1976 with one man, the late Millard Fuller, helping build houses for families in need. That number has grown exponentially since with 360,000 houses build worldwide as of 2013-14, Beeman said.
“We always have international builds and in the U.S. that are ongoing,” Beeman said. “I first was exposed to the organization following the 2005 Hurricane Katrina natural disaster aftermath in Buloxi, Miss. where I visited with local churches.”
At that time, Beeman said he was surprised to see most of the humanitarian efforts being carried out by only two organizations: the Salvation Army and Habitat For Humanity International.
“After about 10 trips to Mississippi and Texas, I started interfacing with Habitat routinely, and seeing how the non-profit interacted with the communities they served amazed me,” Beeman said.
After moving to O’Fallon in the early 2000’s, he decided to start a local chapter.
“And, I’ve been doing it since, I’m retired so this is like my job now, and it’s what I love to do — help people help themselves,” Beeman said.
Beeman said last year approximately $17,000 was raised through fund-raising efforts for the current home about to begin construction.
“Raising money is always a challenge, but we’re finding ways to improve,” Beeman said.
“This fall we have a Halloween 5K Fun Run called The Spooktacular. It’s a blast and people dress up in scary or funny costumes, and it’s family friendly,” Beeman said. “We usually have the route follow the properties we build too.”
A fully loaded 2016 Silverado pick-up truck is the main raffle item for the current fundraising campaign for the next home. April 7 was the first day purchase of raffle tickets were available at O’Fallon’s Jack Schmitt Chevrolet dealership, located at 127 Regency Park Drive.
Tickets are available but limited to 4,000 with the drawing date slated for Oct. 29.
For those interested in helping, either with fund-raising, donations or volunteering, contact Ken Beeman at 618-210-5617.
For more information visit www.ofallonhabitat.org/.