Habitat for Humanity builds hope in O’Fallon

Gary Mueller and Jeff Greenstreet prepare the porch frame for the roof trusses. (Submitted Photo)

Gary Mueller and Jeff Greenstreet prepare the porch frame for the roof trusses. (Submitted Photo)

O’FALLON – The local Habitat for Humanity has always stood out as an organization that dedicates itself to helping others.

The current chairman for the O’Fallon chapter of the Habitat for Humanity, Kenneth Beeman, was kind enough to share some details about the Habitat’s current build on Carson Drive in O’Fallon.

“We have built another house in this local area, at 116 Carson Drive. We were able to procure this lot and started to build on it this year. We selected a family in the fall,” Beeman says. “The future owner is very excited about moving into the house from a two bedroom apartment. She’s got three kids, so she’s looking forward to better things.”

The house which totals about 1,200 square feet, will have brand new appliances in it furnished by Whirlpool. The roofing is furnished by a local company.

“We’ve had really solid support from the local business community. We’ve gone into partnership with the Rotary Clubs of O’Fallon. They’ve provided not only 200 hours of labor to the house but a lot of funds support,” Beeman said. “Part of our crew here are Rotarians. Almost every work day we’re out here. They help a bunch. They also provide us great contacts into the business community. We’ve got two or three aldermen that are helping us on the house, so we’ve got great support from the city as well.”

The project itself first took life about three years ago when fundraising began. After it is determined that there are sufficient funds to complete the home, the family selection process begins.

“That’s a key portion. We want every family that we select to be successful, which means becoming a good homeowner and being able to support it.”

The groundbreaking on the current home took place on May 3 this year. For a majority of the builders, this isn’t their first time building a house like this.

“We’ve had guys who have been doing this for years. It’s all volunteer time,” Beeman said. “We have two electrical companies that are going to come in and do the wiring for us, free of charge. We’ve got two plumbing companies doing that too. The roofing company who is putting on the roof also got us the materials for free. It’s called a low budget effort,” Beeman adds with a chuckle. “If we can build it for a low cost and we can build more of them, then we’re going to do okay.”

This is only the second house in the neighborhood. The Habitat has also procured three more lots, and they intend to one a year if possible. That, of course, all depends on fundraising.

Fundraising is very important to the success of these projects.

“We have a 5k fun run every October,” Beeman says, “ where we dress up in halloween costumes and run through the town. We actually run by these houses that we’ve built. We’ve also had a house donated to us in Belleville. We hope to have that one on the market by the end of the month or by mid August. It was given to us because the the owner was to old and she couldn’t take care of it. She wanted to move to Collinsville to be in assisted care with bigger quarters. We’ve got a realtor on the board and some guys that do rental properties. We’ve been working there the past couple of weekends. When we sell that house, the funds could pay for a house like this, and maybe even half of a future one.”

The first sheet of roof sheathing gets nailed on by Gary Mueller, Bob Kueker, and Jeff Greenstreet. Jim Means and. Jim Campbell look on. (Submitted Photo)

The first sheet of roof sheathing gets nailed on by Gary Mueller, Bob Kueker, and Jeff Greenstreet. Jim Means and Jim Campbell look on. (Submitted Photo)

The current house should be done in October. Originally, the family was told that the house wouldn’t be ready to move into until November. Thanks to the effort of the volunteers, late October has become a reasonable time, save for any major problems.

When asked about why he and the other volunteers give their time to help build this house and others like it, Ken Beeman has a simple response.

“We’re old retired guys!” he jokes. “Our running joke here is that if you don’t have a social security card and a medicare card, you can’t work on the place. Most of us are retired. We do have some young people, though. One young man, Austin Farmer is a high school graduate from O’Fallon High School. His mom and dad go to our church and he really wanted to participate. We also get people from the base and the rotary club come in on bigger days like when have to put up the walls. All of the walls and the roof went up in one day,” Beeman said. “We’ve got a good group of people, and an experienced crew. They’re good volunteers.”

It’s not only work, but it’s proven to be a fun experience for those involved with the project.

“Give a guy a toy, give him a saw or a hammer and he’s happy as heck,” Beeman jokes.

The group is always seeking volunteers. They can be reached through their website, www.ofallonhabitat.org or through their Facebook page.