By Jeff Jefcoat, F118344
Several articles about Habitat for Humanity International have been published in recent issues of this magazine. This month I want to talk about the experience that Jean and I enjoyed with fellow members of the FMCA Chapter: Habitat for Humanity®.
The FMCA Chapter: Habitat for Humanity is made up of FMCA members who are interested in helping Habitat for Humanity International, a non-profit organization that works to eliminate poverty housing and homelessness worldwide. In mid-April, chapter members met in San Antonio, Texas, to build a home. The local San Antonio Habitat for Humanity affiliate has launched a very aggressive program to build 32 homes in 2002 and increase this number by 15 percent in succeeding years, for a total of 72 homes in one particular neighborhood.
The FMCA chapter build team worked Wednesday through Saturday the first week and Tuesday through Friday the next. However, teams were working every day on other houses within the community. Volunteers from the community included people from local corporations; from the four military bases in the area; from churches and civic clubs; and even minimum-security inmates from the local jail.
The local Habitat affiliate coordinates these volunteer builds. Our San Antonio affiliate build coordinator was a young lady named Judy Tsai, a Harvard graduate in her mid-20s who left a $22-an-hour job in New York to take the Habitat for Humanity job at less than $5 an hour. Her knowledge, vivacious energy, and broad smile were truly an inspiration.
Not everyone on our FMCA chapter build team was experienced; some of us had never participated in a build before, and most of us had not even met prior to our arrival in San Antonio. Seven of the 13 motorhoming families were participating in their first Habitat build.
Our build team leaders were Corbett and Connie Pool, F140306. Connie is FMCA’s national treasurer, and she and Corbett co-chair the FMCA Youth Committee. They are very experienced at building homes; they have served as build leaders and have assisted in builds across the nation. No job is too tough for them, even roofing. At this build, Corbett tested his skills by accidentally “skiing” off the roof. Fortunately, he received relatively minor injuries — except to his pride.
Other team members were as follows:
- Bill and Mary Glover, F229443, of Tioga, Texas, who are very experienced at construction work and even built their own home. We enjoyed this couple’s delightful Texas drawl.
- Patricia Houston, F192953, from “Everywhere, USA,” who is president of FMCA’s Coaches for Christ chapter. One evening Patricia was stooping down at the outdoor faucet when Casey, the Pools’ dog, snuck up on Patricia and put her cold nose on her. We’re still trying to figure out which one ended up being more startled.
- Dominic and Jan Imonti, F195895, of Valley Center, California. Dominic is chairman of the FMCA President’s Council, and Jan is a volunteering workaholic.
- Bob and Mary Ireland, F230579, who were working on their 12th build. Mary was hospitalized for two days because of blood clots. Mary, we pray you are back to 100 percent by now.
- Ron and Kari Laubham, F230456, who served as assistant build team leaders. Kari got into a wrestling match with a step ladder and lost. She ended up with bruised ribs, but she’s doing okay now.
- Mac and Shirley McKee, F156643, of Kerrville, Texas, longtime volunteers on the Parking Layout Crew.
- Ray and Karen Nellis, F235635, also of “Everywhere,” who were heading north after the build to pick up a new motorhome.
- International Area vice president Ginger Painter, F23514, and her husband, Charlie, who is chief of parking for FMCA conventions.
- Jack and Polly Paterek, F215677, of Rochester Hills, Michigan. He is a “jack of all trades.” Polly is a nurse who also has a catering business. Wow, what meals we enjoyed each night.
- Ken and Dottie Shipe, F236580. Ken was my working partner when installing soffits. He is an experienced Habitat builder and was a pleasure to work with.
- Al and Donna Vollmer, F227354, of Appleton, Wisconsin, another “first-time build” couple. They are a friendly, delightful couple.
Charlie and Ginger Painter had to leave the build early to prepare for the International Area Rally, which took place at San Antonio’s Freeman Coliseum April 22 through 24. Jean and I took their places the last two days of the build.
Incidentally, during the rally, the International Area officers and rally leaders sold 50-50 raffle tickets to raise funds for the FMCA Chapter: Habitat for Humanity. A total of $1,502 was collected to be donated toward building a home in the name of FMCA. The total was increased after an anonymous gift of $1,000 was offered and was subsequently matched on the spot. So, International Area vice president Ginger Painter was able to hand over $3,502 toward the fund. Approximately $50,000 is needed to build a house after the land is acquired, and the chapter now has almost $30,000. If you would like to help, please send a check to HFHI, RV Care-A-Vanners/FMCA, P.O. Box 369, Americus, GA 31709. Please make checks payable to Habitat for Humanity International and place “Event Code GV2601” on the memo line of the check.
When our team left the site on Friday afternoon, the outside of the house was virtually complete, including the roof, siding, soffits, windows, fascia boards, trim, and most of the paint. The plumbing, electrical, and plasterboard work were to be done by professional contractors. At one point on Friday, I counted 30 people at the site. All were working, and no one was holding up the other. It was amazing.
I cannot say enough about the dedication and friendliness of all those involved, especially our FMCA team. They were happy and jovial, whether at work during the day or socializing in the evening.
A woman named Ruth, her husband, and two small children will be the owners of this new house. Ruth brought us excellent lunches on the days Jean and I were there. She was very excited about the daily progress of the house and was looking forward to moving in by July. On Friday, when Ruth and the children arrived with lunch, we witnessed a scene that touched our hearts. Her little daughter, who is about 4 years old, began shouting, “House! House! House! Mama, house!” At this point, adrenalin was flowing full blast through all of us.
It’s hard to describe the look of satisfaction and joy in the faces of our fellow team members and the excitement in their voices as we left the site for the last time. When they first approached the site, it was a bare concrete slab. As they left, after eight days of hard work in high humidity and temperatures in the mid-80s, they could see a house where a family would soon take up residence. They left a little of themselves there by having taken part in this venture. They were tired but happy. They felt fulfilled.
Nearly 120,000 houses have been built by Habitat for Humanity volunteers during the organization’s 25 years of existence. I believe that more FMCA members could help Habitat for Humanity provide affordable housing for families. Even if you are not available for the entire build time, the build team leader can work with you on scheduling. For more information, contact FMCA Chapter: Habitat for Humanity secretary David Fridline at (716) 739-6808; or visit the chapter’s Web site at www.fmca-hfh.com.
Try it. I predict you will be very pleased.
National Officer Candidate Slate
The FMCA Nominating Committee for 2002 has announced the following recommended slate of candidates for national office for the 2002-2003 term:
National President: Jeff Jefcoat, F118344
National Senior Vice President: R.G. Wilson, F21025
National Secretary: June Davis, F158928
National Treasurer: Connie Pool, F140306
The election will be held during the annual Governing Board meeting September 29 and 30, 2002, at FMCA’s 68th Premier International Motorhome Extravaganza in Hutchinson, Kansas. In accordance with FMCA Bylaws, additional candidates may be nominated by petition or from the floor at the Governing Board meeting.