Habitat build kicks off today

Published 10:17 pm Thursday, April 23, 2009

A vision that has been years in the making will finally come to life today as Habitat for Humanity of Covington County (HFHCC) begins construction work on its first house.

Dale Pancake, president of HFHCC, said the pre-fabricated walls were delivered Thursday, and volunteers can start arriving at 8 a.m. to help in the construction of the home. Work will continue until 4 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday will also have work sessions from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m.

“I would come prepared and ready to work,” he said. “It’s going to be a hot day, so dress for the weather but also dress in work clothes. I would probably wear some sunscreen and closed-toe shoes.

“If you have a hammer and a pair of gloves, feel free to bring them. We will have everything else on site.”

The house is being built for the Hanlin family of Opp, who will also participate in the construction.

Volunteers for the weekend’s “building blitz” should park at the baseball field located at the north end of Fleming Street in Opp. Vans and golf carts will then shuttle the volunteers to the building site, which is in a lot at the intersection of West Park and Burdick streets.

Pancake said the building site is going to be very busy, so volunteers are asked not to park near the lot.

“Both West Park and Burdick Street are very narrow and we need those roads clear so we can transport additional supplies to the site,” he said.

Volunteers will need to register and sign a waiver prior to working at the site, Pancake said. The registration area will be at a nearby lot on the corner of Burdick Street and West Ida Avenue, which will also be the location of the HFHCC’s food and water tent. All volunteers will receive a T-shirt and name tag.

“Everybody will need to sign a waiver if they’re going to work on site,” Pancake said. “That’s a national Habitat policy. The name tag will let us know that everybody there has signed the waiver and is cleared to work.”

Pancake said there will be snacks and lunch provided for the workers, and water will also be available.

The construction will begin at 8 a.m. today, with a small prayer and blessing to officially open the three-day blitz. Pancake said workers will first set up the pre-fabricated walls, and be ready to work on the roof and siding hopefully by mid-afternoon.

Sunday, the day’s work will begin with a small church service. At the end of the work session Sunday evening, Pancake said there will be a ceremony where the family will install the last piece of siding.

Habitat for Humanity is a Christian building ministry devoted to making affordable housing for families in need. The families participate in the process by paying a monthly mortgage and by helping with the labor through their “sweat equity.”

HFHCC received its official affiliation in May 2008, but the organization had already been in the planning stages for several months at that time. Pancake said it is exciting to see all the planning and hard work finally come to fruition this weekend.

“We are very, very excited about starting our first house,” he said. “We’re expecting that we may have a crowd, so we just ask everyone to be patient. We promise that we will make every effort to allow everyone to participate.

“We are breaking new ground for our organization, so we may have some things to learn as we go. We’ve got some folks coming over from the Brewton affiliate to help, and Jimmy Fowler, our construction supervisor, has some good people lined up to be group leaders.”