Benzie County HFH News
Volunteers from across the state assist build
BENZIE COUNTY — Habitat for Humanity of Benzie County is building its 11th home with help from not only local volunteers, but also others who have come from across the state to lend a hand.
The build site is located at 2127 Helen Scott Drive, just outside of Honor, on one acre of land. The house, when completed, will be 1,344 square feet, with four bed rooms, two bathrooms and a 480 square foot garage. The house will go to the Konchek family, and will be Americans with Disabilities Act compliant.
It will be the second home Benzie Habitat has built on Helen Scott drive. Last year’s build is on a lot next door to the Konchek’s future home.
According to William Merry, executive director for Benzie County Habitat for Humanity, the project ran into some trouble when Benzie Habitat’s usual construction manager was unable to volunteer for the build, due to an unexpected medical situation.
Thankfully, when Habitat for Humanity of Michigan was notified of the situation, the call for help went out, and Habitat volunteers from across the sate answered.
Thom Phillips, sustainable housing director for Habitat for Humanity of Michigan, said volunteers came from Genesee, Kalamazoo, Kent, Midland and Mecosta counties.
Volunteers came and went throughout the week, starting work Aug. 21, and finishing the initial building blitz on Friday.
Some volunteers could only help for part of a day, and others, like Thom, could stay for several days to get the build “dry in,” framing the house and getting a roof on it, so subcontractors could come in later.
“These folks, fellow Habitat for Humanity volunteers from across the state, agreed to come,” Phillips said.
Benzie Habitat will find volunteers to finish the build, and some of the volunteers who participated in framing and roofing the house have said they will return to help when they can.
“Obviously, we’re extremely grateful for the assistance,” Merry said. “Otherwise, we would be struggling to get the build completed.”
According to Merry, area churches, and other organizations, pitched in to help house and feed the volunteers. Fresh Wind Christian Community, Blaine Christian Church, Frankfort United Methodist Church, First Congregational Church of Frankfort, Elberta United Methodist Church, Advent Lutheran Church of Lake Ann offered volunteers breakfast, lunch or dinner.
St. Andrews Presbyterian Church paid for The Gathering Place to host a lunch for volunteers, as well.
The First Congregational Church of Benzonia provided volunteers staying overnight sleeping accommodations.
Some of Benzie Habitat’s regular volunteers also worked on the build. Chris Bobek, a local volunteer, said he, like many of the Benzie Habitat for Humanity volunteers, just likes to help out.
“All of these guys like to help,” Bobek said. “They have a soft-spot in their heart.”
He also said he has a set of skills he likes to use to help others.
Merry said Benzie Habitat is still looking for volunteers to help finish the build, which is scheduled to be completed in October.
History of Benzie Habitat
Benzie County Habitat for Humanity was originally part of the Habitat For Humanity Grand Traverse Region, but Benzie volunteers began working to split and form its own affiliate in 2007, which became official in 2008.
“There was just a general feeling among Benzie volunteers,” said MaryEllen Miller, board secretary for Benzie Habitat, and chairman of the family selection committee.” They wanted to have more control, and thought they would get a lot of support from Benzie County people, especially those who thought Benzie might not be getting the full benefit of local contributions in terms of being a priority. I think we wanted to stand on our own, and felt like we had the resources and lots of support.”
Bill Dundon, treasurer for Benzie Habitat, said the organization has built homes across the county, including homes in Honor, Benzonia, and Thompsonville.
“Some of the houses were built with volunteer labor, and several were built with help from the building trades class out of the Traverse Bay Area Intermediate School District,” Dundon said.
He said the price of building the average Benzie Habitat home runs between $95,000 to $105,0000, and funding comes from fundraisers like The Festival of Trees, the Dan Straubel Memorial Golf Outing, donations and net profits from the Habitat Re-Store.
Partner Family Selection
Miller said the families moving into Habitat homes were called partner families, because they work with habitat in a variety of ways, and there are several requirements to becoming one.
“They have to be residents of Benzie County, and they need to have a need for housing,” she said. “The need could be because their current home is too small, severe physical defects or not affordable for the family.
“There also is a minimum and maximum income range based on tables created by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development. They also have to be willing to partner with Habitat, and invest sweat equity, either by working on their own home, or other Habitat projects, for a minimum number of hours.”
The Konchek family has helped out during the build by helping to line up volunteers and doing site inventory, along with other jobs on the build site.
Miller said it is important for people to know Benzie Habitat is not just handing people a house.
“It is not a hand out, it is a hand up,” Miller said. “The partner family, once they go through the whole process, will own the home, and have a mortgage, just through us, not the bank. The payments come back as a reinvestment, and we can spend it on future homes. It’s not just some program where you get a house. It is a way to earn your way to pay for a house.”
For more information on Habitat for Humanity of Benzie County, visit benziehabitat.org or call (231) 399-0300.
Posted by Colin Merry
Colin is the general news reporter for the Record Patriot. You can reach him at (231) 352-9659 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
During our annual meeting in June we elected new officers and added a new director to the Benzie County Habitat for Humanity Board of Directors! Pictured from left: Jennifer Murtaugh (Vice President), Lisa Breithaupt (New Director), William Merry (Executive Director), Norma Corwin (President), Steve Vanderperre, MaryEllen Miller (Secretary), William Dundon (Treasurer), John Collins, Steve Mitchell, Brad Pierce, Linda Kehr (Attorney), and Bill Frostic. Not pictured are Jim Sheets, Brooke Trentham-Popp, Mike Thompson, and Scott Kidder.
(Photo taken by Sue Fischer)
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Seeking to put God's love into action, Habitat for Humanity brings people together to build homes, communitites, and hope.
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