Habitat for Humanity Looks for More Volunteers After Harsh Winter

By Dave Franzman, Reporter

WASHINGTON, Iowa- A Habitat for Humanity project in Washington is putting out an extra call for volunteers after the brutal weather this winter created construction delays.

Margie Roth, Washington County liaison for Iowa Valley Habitat for Humanity, said calls for frozen pipes and other winter problems reduced the time those professional contractors could spend on the Habitat home. So that has put the project several weeks behind schedule with a dedication now set for May 20th.

The group put out an open call for volunteers to help finish the Washington home, located at 1633 Highland Avenue in the northern part of the community.

Volunteers who could help were asked to show up beginning Thursday evening from 6:00 until 9:00 p.m. Volunteers are also needed from 8:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. Jim Cluney, site manager for the Habitat home, said he'll maintain the evening hours for volunteers next week from Tuesday though Thursday and then full days on Friday and Saturday.

Cluney said he'll keep up that volunteer schedule until the project catches up.

Afton and Bob Perry are the prospective homeowners. Both want to move in as soon as possible. They say the project got off to a quick start last fall with a mainly volunteer crew. But things slowed down as the professionals needed to finish their work over the winter.

Bob Perry said he and his family are anxious to move into their new home. But they can certainly understand the delay.

"People have freezing pipes and they're not going to say you'll have to wait because we're doing something else right now," Perry said.

But site manager Cluney said it's a little more difficult to organize Habitat volunteers in Washington these days. Three years ago, the Washington Habitat group went inactive and stopped building. Iowa Valley Habitat in Iowa City stepped in to restart efforts in Washington last year.

In the meantime, some of the Habitat regular volunteers in Washington found other projects.

"I've had a few people who've said 'you know I'm getting older and I can't climb the ladder' so along with the older generation that volunteers we're trying to reach out to younger people to fill the gap," Cluney said.

Cluney said in past years, when Habitat was active, groups in Washington like churches and even businesses would send people for an entire day. Some even made it a contest to see who could get the most done. He's hoping to revive that spirit to finish the Washington Habitat home.
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