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September 29, 2023

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New projects to start soon, volunteers needed

Habitat for Humanity of Wood County is beginning their first project of the year and is seeking volunteers.

The project’s main purpose is to build a new home for the Wittenmeyer family, a single mother and her two children in Bradner, Ohio. Executive Director Jennifer Kephart said the organization plans to break ground in April.

She said in past projects, the University has always been supportive and that there are many student and faculty volunteers willing to help.

“We would 100 percent love to participate with more volunteers,” Kephart said.

There are many tasks outside of construction and building that students can take part in, including writing thank-you cards to donors, organizing food deliveries for builders, cleaning and painting, she said.

Since she was a freshman, Lindsay Balster, president of the University chapter of Habitat for Humanity, has been involved with the organization.

“I always have a permanent home to go to, a place where I can feel safe and laugh,” Balster said. “Having the opportunity to help a family in need and give them a permanent home, too, is really rewarding.”

As a volunteer, there is always something that can be done, not just with this project, but year round, she said.

There are a variety of ways students can get involved to assist with the project and organization. Build Chair Clinton Dowell said contacting Wood County’s Habitat office or a student on the executive board on-campus are two main ways to get more information, but going to meetings is by far the most helpful.

The organization is hosting Habitat Night at Trinity United Methodist Church Feb. 25 from 5-7 p.m. Dowell said the event is a large general meeting and is open to the public.

“[Habitat Night] is an opportunity [for] the board members and volunteers to meet and review their goals and the progress they’ve made so far,” Balster said. “People who aren’t sure if they want to volunteer or get involved can come sit in on committee talks and see what we’re working on.”

In addition to discussing their progress, Balster said there will be activities based on the organization and Pita Pit will be sponsoring the event.

Kephart said Habitat Night is a great opportunity to learn more about projects and decide if volunteering is something students or community members want to do.

“We ask our volunteers to have compassion first and foremost to everyone,” she said. “We want them to have a genuine desire to help and flexibility when it comes to different tasks they may have.”

The Wittenmeyer family was approved nearly a year and a half ago through the organization’s family selection process.

Kephart said the process is a hefty one and is based on three things: need for housing, inability to pay mortgage and willingness to assist the organization in building.

She said families do pay a mortgage; however, it is an interest-free mortgage. In addition to selecting a family and fundraising for the build, Kephart said there is a lot of planning that has gone into this project.

“We conduct site surveys and put a lot of effort into making sure it is an energy efficient build,” she said.

With the build beginning in April, Kephart said she hopes to have the family moved into their new home by August.

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