Habitat breaks ground for peninsula family

Home sweet home

Posted: Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Community-minded contributors noshed hot dogs, mingled with friends and family and otherwise enjoyed Saturday’s spring weather at the ceremonial groundbreaking for Central Peninsula Habitat for Humanity’s summer house build.

Habitat for Humanity is an international Christian charity organization that has built more than 200,000 homes for needy families since 1974.

Attendees of the ceremonial groundbreaking stood amidst a half dozen of those homes along Cottage Circle — some of the 13 built in as many years by the organization’s central peninsula branch — during the event.

Initial work on the project began about two weeks ago, according to the Habitat board member serving as building foreman for this year’s project, James McCurdy. No work was done at the ceremonial groundbreaking, but he said major construction on the 30-foot by 40-foot home will begin Wednesday.

McCurdy said he got involved with Habitat in 2001 to help the community because he felt his experience working construction and on oil rigs would allow him to contribute.

“I have talents that can be applied to this kind of project,” McCurdy said. “I’m kind of a jack-of-all-trades.”

The inclusion of trades talent was the goal of a new contributing organization for this year’s project, as well. Corporate and community sponsors often step up as individual companies, but the Kenai Peninsula Association of Realtors decided to bring the talents of its 125 members and affiliates to bear this time around, according to association president Joe Rodgers.

“It was kind of a unanimous decision to give something a little different back to the community,” Rogers said.

The association’s members and affiliates include plumbers, construction contractors, real estate agents and a wide variety of home-building service providers, he said. The association’s members are usually competing for business, though.

“This is something that, hopefully, will pool all of us. We’re competitors with each other in the industry and we do things on our own, but this is something that is really going to test ourselves to do together,” Rogers said.

The association doesn’t want to step on the toes of other contributors or community members who wish to pound nails for the project, he said.

“We want to be the hole-fillers and step in where we can — we’ve got a lot of people with know-how,” he said.

In order for a family to be eligible for a Habitat home, the family must go through an extensive application process, based on financial need, and be selected by the Habitat board, according to Central Peninsula HFH’s President Bill Radke.

Once selected, the future homeowners must put in 500 hours of work-sweat equity-the organization calls it on the home, then make mortgage payments on the zero-interest loan to Habitat. Habitat puts up the money for the home, the family pays it off, and the mortgage payments go toward the next home Habitat builds.

The family members for whom a home is built, Radke said, have their lives changed forever, but volunteers can find new talents as they help to make the change, too.

“You change not only the families’ lives,” Radke said, pointing to a Habitat-built house next to the one volunteers will spend the next three months building. “Twenty-two people who never held a hammer in their hands built this.”

Tim Murphy, along with his wife, Raelynne, 8-year-old daughter, Violet, 4-year-old son, Devin, and 2-year-old son, Shannon, will move into the home upon its completion.

“This is really exciting for me,” Tim Murphy said Saturday. “We’ve been wanting to get a house forever. This is just a dream come true, and it’s only the beginning of it.”

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