There was once a time when whole communities came together, rolled up their collective sleeves and pitched in to build a barn. For many on the Kenai Peninsula, that barn-raising spirit still exists in the form of Habitat for Humanity.
The Americus, Ga., based group has been helping people in need find affordable housing worldwide since 1976, with the peninsula chapter in operation since 1992. This year, Habitat is working to complete its 11th central peninsula home.
That home, on a parcel of city-donated land in dubbed "Habitat Acres" on Cottage Circle in Kenai, will eventually belong to Tim Ticknor and Jennifer Waters of Kenai. The couple has been keeping busy this summer helping a steady stream of local and international volunteers build their new home.
"It's awesome," said Waters on a drizzly Thursday morning last week. "It's just incredible what these volunteers can do."
What the volunteers do is provide the manual labor, "the grunt work," according to Corvallis, Ore., volunteer Dave Kovac. Kovac was part of a 19-member Global Village group who finished two weeks of labor on the new home. Kovac said he lends his time to Habitat for a couple of reasons.
"It's a chance to see a culture without being a tourist," he said. "You get to feel like part of the community rather than a visitor."
He added that in addition to helping people get into decent housing, the relationships forged through hard work can last a lifetime.
"We all didn't know each other when we got here," but two weeks of living together forces people to work together, he said. "You get to know people pretty quick."
Central peninsula Habitat coordinator Terri Daly said the program relies entirely on the donations of businesses and volunteers for the labor.
"It wouldn't be possible without people from the community," She said.
She said countless area businesses, individuals and churches have lent hours of machinery rental, stacks of building material and buckets of sweat to the cause.
However, just because the house is built with the help of donations and volunteers, both Daly and Waters emphasized that the program is far from a free home.
"No way is it a giveaway," Waters said.
Daly explained that homeowners are required to contribute 500 hours of labor to building the home. Additionally, homeowners have to make a down payment, and then are responsible for a mortgage payment. The home isn't free, just sold for cost in order to provide people with affordable housing.
Currently, Waters and Ticknor must cram themselves and their three children, Dezmon, Timothy and Mickinzie into a small Kenai trailer. The two were visibly giddy as they walked through their still-unfinished new home.
As Ticknor pointed out where the new bathroom would go, Waters went from room to room describing the planned interior.
"Oh, we just can't wait," she said.
However, the 19-member Outside volunteer crew departed Thursday, leaving only local volunteers to finish the home. The couple is hoping to move in before winter sets in, but that all depends on how many volunteers decide to help out in the coming weeks.
"We'll be in when its finished," Waters said.
Daly said all Habitat can do is continue to work hard with what they've got and hope more donate a few hours of time.
"We had lots of help all summer, everyone has been wonderful," she said.
However, just like the barn raising of old, the more people who help, the sooner the project will be complete. And anybody interested in helping out is certainly welcome.
"Any time they want to help, we'll take them," Daly said.
Anyone interested in volunteering time or donations to the Central Peninsula Habitat for Humanity can visit the group's Web site at http://home.fullmoonwebs.com/cphabitatforhumanity/index.cfm or call Daly at 283-7797.
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