WHEELING - When a Habitat for Humanity project in South Wheeling fell weeks behind schedule because organizers lacked a backhoe to dig the house's foundation, Volunteer Coordinator Lisa Werner soon discovered that all she had to do was ask.
The very same morning an interview with Werner appeared in local newspapers expressing that need, she said she arrived at work to find a phone message from St. Clairsville business owner John Bettem offering to send a couple of his employees at Katko Ltd. to the work site at 97 33rd St. He mentioned he had read the newspaper article and was eager to help, Werner said.
And in the days following Bettem's offer, Werner continued to be touched by the generosity of local business leaders as she said several other companies contacted her volunteering their services.
Tony Poch moves dirt with a backhoe and Albert Takach digs in a trench as the Katko Ltd. employees work at the site of a Habitat for Humanity project in South Wheeling. -- Ian Hicks
Dirt was moving on the empty lot bright and early Tuesday. Werner said the swift response to Habitat's request for assistance was a particularly welcome gift because of the urgency of the home recipient's situation: The working mother and her three daughters, one of whom is handicapped, were told they had to be out of their apartment by the end of the year, and Werner is not sure where they're living at present.
"It was amazing," Werner said. "I really appreciated it. ... They're in very desperate need of somewhere to stay. ... Now we'll be able to meet their housing needs in a timely fashion."
The local Habitat group hopes to have the house under roof by Feb. 14, a goal Werner believes is attainable now that work is under way.
If all goes as planned, Werner said workers will grade the site, pour concrete for the foundation and complete exterior plumbing and electrical work next week, and put up the house's frame the following week. Volunteers have committed to perform that task, but Werner said more are welcome and asks anyone interested to call 304-234-9211 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Calling on those with a volunteer's spirit but lacking a handyman's touch, Werner added the group is seeking people to provide lunch to workers at the site on Saturdays, when the bulk of work will take place.
She also expressed thanks to all the donors who have provided resources for the project, including the Soroptimist Club, Saints and Sinners Club and the Vineyard Church. She noted students in Wheeling Park High School's Habitat for Humanity Club are raising money toward appliances for the home.
"This is a wonderful illustration of exactly what Habitat is all about - about volunteers working together to provide housing for those who are truly in need," said Werner.
Habitat partner families must put a $500 down payment on a home, put hundreds of hours of their own labor into its construction as well as repay the organization over time for building costs. The Wheeling group formed in 1989.