Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Flexibility and openness keep Habitat for Humanity of Allegheny Valley moving toward its goal

Yesterday morning I went to the McCargo Street site to meet up with John Renock and Diane Belitskus for a conversation about the web presence of our Habitat for Humanity of Allegheny Valley. John is in New Kensington for the week with a youth group from the First Lutheran Church in Galion, Ohio. This group brought along a group from the First Presbyterian Church of Eaton as well, and they were at work doing a variety of projects on the first of three Houses our local Habitat affiliate plans to complete in 2006.

The walls were raised on the McCargo Street house only last month. (Article on this blog here and in the Valley News Dispatch here) A lot of progress has been made since the first two walls were raised. The two youth groups from Ohio were working alongside local volunteers on a number of different tasks.
Preble county champion preparing to insulate roof
Meanwhile, a youth group from St. Scholastica Roman Catholic Church in Aspinwall arrived to help out. Jamie Dillon led the group of 17 who will be helping over the next three days (at one point it was anticipated that this would be a group of 10). Diane Belitskus gave this group a brief orientation to the purpose of Habitat for Humanity.
HFH Allegheny Valley Director Diane Belitskus orients group from Aspinwall
This group ended up working two blocks away at a site where Habitat for Humanity of Allegheny Valley will fix up a house that needs a lot of work. She gave the group a tour of the interior of the house, where the previous owner had started a renovation but decided not to continue. The first order of business was to start cleaning up the yard that had not been maintained and was quite overgrown.
922 Walnut before Habitat work team started cleaning up, July 10, 2006
922 Walnut before Habitat work team started cleaning up, July 10, 2006
Diane explained that this home became available to our affiliate during a week when there appeared to be roadblocks in the way of another property on which we hoped to build a home. This was very timely because the affiliate has a grant to increase building capacity that depends on finishing three homes this year. This late in the year it would be especially difficult to have to build two other homes from the ground up. "When God closes a door, God opens a window," she explained.

This is a rather large house to fix up, and is perhaps larger than would be used by most Habitat families, but there is a family with whom Habitat is working who may be ideal for this space because some of the extended family are currently homeless.

By the end of the day the group from Aspinwall had made a significant improvement in the site.
922 Walnut after one day of cleanup by Habitat work team, July 10, 2006
It was late in the morning when I was finally able to have the conversation about our web presence, but I had learned a lot during the morning about the incredible flexibility that our local teams have to exercise in making use of new opportunities as quickly as they appear.

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