YOUNGSTOWN Volunteers get hooked; building becomes a Habitat



Habitat for Humanity's goal is to eliminate homelessness and substandard housing.
By MARALINE KUBIK
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
YOUNGSTOWN -- When Bob Titus decided to replace all the doors and windows in his home nine years ago, the used building materials were too good to throw away.
He wanted to donate them to a worthy cause and thought Habitat for Humanity would be ideal. The international nonprofit, nondenominational, Christian organization builds affordable houses for low-income families worldwide.
Three weeks later, Titus was invited to help build a new home for a family in Akron. "Once you build your first house, you're hooked," the Bristolville man said.
Helped on others
He's since helped to build several houses throughout Mahoning and Trumbull counties, California and Georgia. He's also encouraged others to get involved.
T.J. Stamper, who works with Titus at General Motors Lordstown Assembly Plant, started volunteering with Habitat last fall. Earlier this month, both men and Titus' wife took part in Jimmy Carter's Work Project 2003, which built 92 houses throughout three communities in Georgia and Alabama in seven days.
UAW Local 1112 donated $150 to each of the men to help defray their costs for the $800 per-person trip.
In Youngstown
This summer, the men, along with a handful of other volunteers, are helping Linda Thompson complete a house on Youngstown's East Side. Thompson, a school nurse, and her three children, ages 11, 9 and 8, hope to move into their new home in August.
Families chosen to live in Habitat homes must invest hundreds of hours of "sweat equity" into the construction of Habitat houses as well as put up a down payment and pay off the no-interest mortgage; houses are sold to qualifying families at no profit.
Beatitude House, a housing and education program for single women and their children, put Thompson in touch with Habitat more than a year ago.
"I was supposed to get my house last year," she said with a smile, "but I wasn't quite ready." Since her house has been under construction, she's helped to put on the roof, attach siding and erect interior walls. Thompson's father, brothers and cousins have also volunteered their services.
"There's no talent or skill that goes to waste," Stamper said. "We need to get more people involved."
Titus said he hopes to encourage an entire team of his co-workers to attend Carter's "building blitz" next year in Mexico. Each year, Titus explained, the building blitz is held in a different community.
Habitat for Humanity's goal is to eliminate homelessness and substandard housing.
Since 1976, Habitat has built some 125,000 houses in almost 90 countries, including some 45,000 throughout the United States.
The average cost of the houses in the United States is $46,000. They are built by owner families and volunteers under trained supervision.
For more information about volunteering or making donations, contact William Bunn at (330) 743-7244 or gamandpop@aol.com.
kubik@vindy.com

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