Archive for Thursday, July 19, 2001

Workers nail down beginning of Habitat house foundation

July 19, 2001

About 9 a.m. Saturday, when most children his age were probably in their pajamas watching cartoons, 5-year-old Kelly Latshaw struck a nail into the frame of his new home with some steadying from Habitat for Humanity construction chairman Randy Krehbiel.

"This is what they've been waiting for all day: to get hammers," Kelly's grandmother Karen Williams said.

The proficiency at hammering improved as Kelly's older siblings, Amanda, 11, and Adam, 8, Graff and their grandmother took their shots at hammering.

The nail driving ceremony, a staple of Habitat for Humanity home construction, kicked off a day of volunteer building at the site, 625 Locust St.

After singing a round of the hymn "Bless This House," a cacophony of hammering erupted as volunteers took up where the Williams family left off.

Volunteer Loretta Gantenbein came with home building experience she gathered while building a log home near Baldwin City. Now living in Eudora, Gantenbein said she and her husband, although he couldn't make it, tried to volunteer for Habitat when they could.

"Every time they do it in Lawrence, it never works out, and here was my opportunity," she said.

Although the ceremony was still another 15 minutes away, a few volunteers already had some of the frames put together.

"When people get here, we'll be able to raise it," Gantenbein said, looking at the portions of frame that lay dormant on the cement slab of foundation.

Krehbiel told the volunteers that building a Habitat house would benefit not only the Williams family, but the community as a whole.

"It's an opportunity to work with neighbors and friends and meet new friends," he said.

As a beneficiary of Habitat for Humanity, Williams must put in 150 hours of sweat equity on both her own home and other Habitat homes under construction for other families. Williams, who already had 100 hours under her belt, exceeded expectations, Jill Shelley, who worked with the Williams family on the program, said.

"She's been so good about helping other people," Shelley said.

Building a home with a volunteer work force has its benefits, too, she said.

"Volunteers tend to put more nails in than too few," Shelley said.

After signing a letter of intent, a contract between her and the program, Williams addressed the group of people gathered around her new home.

"To everyone who has worked here in any way, thank you very, very much," she said.

Volunteer Marilyn Laws Porter told the other volunteers the family would be model homeowners and would make Eudora proud.

"I have a hard time calling it a house," Laws Porter said. "I think she's already made it a home."

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