Work begins on Habitat home

BREMEN — Habitat for Humanity of Marshall County was busy in Bremen Saturday. Dean Byers, executive director of the nonprofit ecumenical Christian housing ministry in the county, headed the building of the outside walls for the home Habitat is constructing. This home is the fourteenth in Marshall County, and the third in Bremen.
“We have many of our regulars helping today,” Byers said, referring to the 15 or so volunteers who arrived at 8 a.m. to help. In a small space in front of the Bremen Hospital Clinic on Plymouth Street, Clay Metzger, project manager, organized and oversaw the wall building. Metzger has retired from construction but still uses his skills and expertise volunteering for Habitat.
In order to be eligible for Habitat homes, persons interested must go through an application process, have a housing need, have an income, and log 300 hours (per adult) of volunteer work with Habitat throughout the process; however, 100 of those hours must be done prior to the construction of the home.
In Marshall County, Habitat usually builds a home each year with construction finishing sometime in the spring. The mortgage is then figured by the cost of materials, taxes, insurance. The homeowners pay their no-interest mortgage to Habitat over a period of 20 years, with a possibility of part of it being forgiven. The money Habitat makes is used to build more homes.
A new addition to Habitat for Humanity of Marshall County is their homeowner’s mentor program. Each new homeowner is given a volunteer for one year who helps with home owning lessons such as lawn care, furnace maintenance, and financial planning for the home.
Steve Westfall, a longtime volunteer, has been a mentor twice already to Habitat homeowners in Plymouth. “I can help them realize things like: if you water your grass, the water bill will go up — because they may not know that,” he said.
The consensus from Marshall County’s Habitat is that this has helped the program tremendously. “These homeowners are more ready to be successful parts of their communities because they know more about owning a home,” Byers said.
Bill and Jennifer Hardin, the owners of this new home, are excited. They are proud parents of a little boy, born just a week ago. Born three weeks early, Jennifer has been busy with the new baby and their older child. Bill was present right away to build walls and expressed their gratefulness for this opportunity. Jennifer was able to join them later.
With her pregnancy during this process, Jennifer was not able to volunteer doing some of the labor work. Another volunteer option is working at the Habitat’s ReStore. The ReStore, located at 116 S. Walnut in Plymouth, is a retail outlet with donated items ranging from drywall to doorknobs to cabinets and beyond. The mission of the store is to supply the community with affordable home improvement supplies, keep reusable building materials from going to the landfill, and financially supporting Habitat for Humanity of Marshall County. With just the proceeds from the ReStore, Habitat has been able to build an entire home.
Several of Bremen’s generous community members have donated materials and time to this benevolent cause. John Pfeiffer and Skip Fanning are working onsite with excavating and concrete. Johns Manville donated materials. Bremen Pizza Hut donated lunch last Saturday for workers and CVS, Jennifer’s employer, brought out water for the volunteers working in the heat.
To donate to the ReStore, call 574-935-4214. Donations can be picked up.