ShareThis Page

Central Westmoreland Habitat for Humanity nails a new system

Jacob Tierney
| Sunday, June 11, 2017, 11:00 p.m.

Central Westmoreland Habitat for Humanity expected to finish renovating one house this year. Instead, it will finish two.

“We are significantly ahead of schedule, which we're really excited about,” Executive Director Daniel Giovannelli said.

The organization bought two small homes on Jefferson Street in Greensburg from the Westmoreland County Land Bank in December. Renovation began a short time later, and, thanks to volunteer efforts and donations, the work is expected to be completed by fall.

More volunteers than expected have turned out on weekends to help. Groups or companies will help out for a few days, while a few people show up almost every week, Giovannelli said.

The combined budget for both projects is about $100,000 — half in cash, half in donated materials — almost all of which has been raised already.

“That's taken some of the pressure off the timing, because we've been able to get the materials when we need them,” Giovannelli said.

The organization's rapid progress is a far cry from the situation a few years ago. The renovation of two houses in Jeannette had been stalled for years when the board decided it was time to make a change, board President Chuck Quiggle said.

“It wasn't moving forward very fast,” he said.

The board reorganized. The organization used to be staffed entirely by volunteers, but a small group of paid employees came on in early 2016, including Giovannelli.

“It just took off like a rocket,” Quiggle said.

The two houses in Jeannette were finished late last year. Last fall, Habitat for Humanity moved its ReStore thrift shop from a tiny garage in Jeannette to a large space on Outlet Way in Hempfield.

At first, the staff wasn't sure there would be enough merchandise to fill the 12,000-square-foot space, but donations have poured in, said volunteer Pat Santia.

“Now it's to the point we could use another 12,000 square feet,” she said.

Proceeds from the thrift store support the organization and its home-building efforts.

“It's for a good purpose. Everything stays local, everything goes right back into the houses,” Santia said.

A big objective has been raising awareness, Giovannelli said. Habitat for Humanity is a name with national clout, but for a long time many people didn't know the Westmoreland County chapter existed.

“We're the best-kept terrible secret,” Giovannelli said. “A big part of what we've been doing is getting on people's radar.”

Giovannelli hopes families will move into the Greensburg homes by Thanksgiving. The organization is still seeking applicants — low-income families who can put at least 360 hours of work into their new home and pay a zero-percent interest mortgage are eligible.

Meanwhile, Giovannelli already is looking toward the next project. He hopes Habitat for Humanity can renovate two homes in 2018. He's looking at properties on the east side of the county and seeking sponsors to fund the work.

Quiggle said he hopes the progress continues.

“The people who have supported us and the volunteers who have come have been great. We couldn't do it without them,” he said. “It just seems like it's moving along, not like a flood, but it's growing.”

Jacob Tierney is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-836-6646 or jtierney@tribweb.com.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.