Disabled Marine veteran, wife move into Allegheny Valley Habitat for Humanity's 22nd house
A house at 644 Ridge Ave. was in such bad shape New Kensington officials condemned it several years ago.
But that wasn’t the end of the old house.
It took almost two years, but the two-story, two-bedroom house with a basement and patio was rebuilt with volunteer sweat and love and community donations by Allegheny Valley Habitat for Humanity.
On Saturday, the house became home for Vietnam veteran Ray Duckett and his wife, Brenda.
It’s the 22nd Habitat for Humanity home built in the Alle-Kiski Valley since 1997.
Duckett, who is a disabled former Marine, said the stars and stripes have a prominent place throughout the house.
Despite his physical limitations, Duckett has taken on responsibilities for this and future Habitat projects.
Duckett may need to sit down from time to time, but he uses his construction background to teach other volunteers how to do the work, said John Tamiggi, Habitat’s executive director.
“Ray has home maintenance and repair skill sets and will be mentoring volunteers and future homeowners,” Tamiggi said.
Duckett was raised in Pittsburgh, but has been part of the Valley for several decades.
The Rev. Peter Nkemakolam led prayers and a dedication service for the house. Originally from Nigeria, he is pastor of a community outreach ministry in Arnold.
Duckett’s mother and brother were among those who attended Saturday’s event.
Dozens of people from across the region donated money and labor at the house.
Incredibly, Glenn Nordmark of Lower Burrell, soon to be 90, worked on this and the other 21 Habitat houses in the Valley.
“It’s a way to do as God tells us and serve man’s needs,” he said. The Air Force veteran served in Korea and continues to help.
Bob Beck who lives across the street, didn’t think the house could be restored. Beck said the previous owner became ill and could not continue its upkeep.
“This is amazing,” Beck said. “And Ray has been my best friend for at least seven years.”
Habitat’s construction manager Scott Reider, who is also a former Marine, put the house keys into Duckett’s hand.
“It was a honor,” said Reider of Export. “To be able to give the keys to another Marine, well, it was special. Non-Marines can’t understand.”
The house has been inspected and only a few finishing touches remain, but it’s in move-in shape.
Chuck Biedka is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Chuck at 724-226-4711, firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @ChuckBiedka.