When there is a need, often the most important thing an individual can do is give the person facing difficulties a hand up and not a hand-out.
That philosophy has been at the heart and center of the Sedalia Area Habitat for Humanity since it began with the support of seven area churches.
“Our goal is to help families have a home they can call their own after years of not being able to do so,” Dr. David Limbaugh, President of the Sedalia Area Habitat for Humanity, said. “Through our work, we are not only helping bring families together, but we are helping to bring the community together as well.
“Volunteers and civic organizations play such a large part in how we get these homes built,” Limbaugh added. “We are a small organization and we simply couldn’t do our work without the help of our volunteers.”
Limbaugh said in the last 25 years that he has been involved with the organization, 22 Habitat Homes have been built in the area.
According to the organization’s website, the cost of each home is $60,000, which covers the full cost of the land and any professional labor to complete the home.
The organization’s most recent project is a four-bedroom house on Tower Street that will soon be home for Amanda Fisher, a single mother and her four daughters.
“This truly is a dream for my family,” Fisher said. “People had told me for so long that I should apply for a house, but I didn’t think I would ever qualify.
“I always thought there are other people who are so much more deserving than we are,” she added. “I didn’t want it to seem I was taking advantage of the generosity of the situation.”
Fisher is exactly the type of potential homeowner the organization is looking for.
Most who are accepted as Habitat Homeowners meet the following circumstances: they are single mothers with two or more children, who live in substandard housing, which they are renting. They cannot currently own a home to qualify.
Potential homeowners have to be willing to commit to 300 hours of volunteer work, or sweat equity, and they must be capable of making payments on the home.
“I think that is a misconception a lot of people have about our organization,” Limbaugh said. “We don’t give these homes away; the only thing that they do not have to pay is interest on a home loan.
“Typically, their house payment is around $350 a month,” he added. “They have to make their monthly payments because we use that money in turn to build the next house.”
While some of the supplies and materials needed to build the houses are donated, the organization does need funding to purchase land for the homes and other supplies.
The houses are described as modest, energy-efficient homes.
“We’ve been really fortunate and blessed,” Beverly Clark, volunteer coordinator for the Sedalia Area Habitat for Humanity, said. “There are a lot of good people out there who make all of this happen.”
Clark said that often area businesses, churches and other civic groups would provide meals for the volunteers or other needed supplies.
“We had a really unique situation on this house,” Clark said. “A group of Amish contacted us and wanted to help. In two days they had the shell and the roof of the house complete.
“I think it was 20 degrees outside when they came to help us,” Limbaugh said. “They brought so many volunteers that it was so loud with all the hammers and saws and work going on.
“We offered to do something for them, but they simply would not let us pay them in any way other than a thank you,” he added.
The gratitude of others is one of the most satisfying aspects of the program, according to many who are involved with the organization.
“This is the first time my girls can each say they have their own room,” Fisher said tearfully. “They were so happy when they were told they could pick out paint colors for their rooms.
“I can’t describe what this means for us.” she added. “It’s been hard raising three girls on my own and working full-time, but we are so fortunate.”
Fisher said she could relate to others because life always puts something in a person’s path and everyone has a story to tell.
“We were here working one day,” Fisher said. “When they put the front door up we all started to cry.
“Their support and belief is incredible,” she added, “It’s our turn to help others now.”
On Saturday, Oct. 10, Fisher and her daughters plan to take part in the first Pettis County Day of Sharing.
Three organizations — the Pettis County Community Partnership, Sedalia-Pettis County United Way and Habitat for Humanity — will join forces to help those in need throughout the area on a variety of projects.
“I think we have about 140 volunteers who will be helping that day,” Limbaugh said. “It’s a day when we all come together to do what we need to, to help others take care of life.”
Individuals who would like to learn more about Habitat for Humanity or would like to donate to the organization may do so at habitatsedalia.org.
Hope Lecchi can be reached at 660-826-1000 ext. 1484