'Habitat' chapter plans big for summer
Habitat for Humanity's local chapter has big plans for its summer season, including building three houses and the opening of the area's first Re-Store.
"This is the only store of this kind in this area," said Dee John, president of the Fayette County chapter of Habitat for Humanity. "There are several of these stores out in eastern Pennsylvania, and one of our board members visited it and got the idea for the store we are opening here."
The other Re-Stores in the state are located in Coatesville, Lancaster, Nanticoke and York.
Individuals can donate items to the Re-Store that will be used to benefit Habitat for Humanity.
"Anyone who is remodeling can donate items such as cabinets, sink bowls or doors," John said.
The store offers items such as insulation, wallpaper, light fixtures, cabinets, shingles and bathroom items.
"We are going to price these items to sell. We encourage anyone who might be remodeling to check out the items we have to offer first," said Ray Polaski, vice president of the Fayette chapter.
Todd Brooks, the on-site manager of the Re-Store, said that the center has been busy with the donations.
"People call and bring the items by to drop them off," Brooks said.
"All of these supplies are donated, so of course we are making some money, but we use that money to build houses. It costs about $50,000 to build a house," John said.
Polaski said that items donated to the Re-Store should be either new or in like-new condition.
"If anyone wants to donate new- or good-condition items then we will come take a look at it and see if it is something we can use or not," Polaski said.
The Re-Store, which is located on 280 Fayette St. in Uniontown, is set to open in mid-July.
"I really enjoy working here. I can't wait until we open," Brooks said.
Habitat for Humanity is also working on building three houses on Faith Street in North Union Township. Two of the houses, on the site of a former elementary school, are being built in conjunction with the Uniontown Lions Club.
"Two of the houses at the Faith Street site are going to be handicapped accessible," Polaski said. "The third we haven't decided whether we will work with the Lions Club again or build it on our own."
Sherry Williams, 26, a substitute teacher for Laurel Highlands and Albert Gallatin, is a recipient of one of the houses.
"One of the teachers I work with is on the selection committee, and she encouraged me to apply," Williams said.
The house that Williams currently lives in is not handicapped accessible, and because Williams is in a wheelchair, it is difficult for her to maneuver.
"I would have to crawl through the halls or the bedrooms because my chair won't fit," Williams said.
There have been setbacks in finishing the house, but Williams is looking forward to moving in with her parents and two sisters, ages 2 and 14.
"My grandmother has been sick with cancer, and she lives just down the street from the new house, so it will be much easier to visit her and take care of her once we move in," Williams said. "I am definitely excited about getting the new house."
In order to qualify for Habitat for Humanity housing, individuals must be renting and show financial need.
In addition to these requirements, individuals must contribute many hours of labor toward the completion of the house, or "sweat equity."
In Williams' case, she worked at the Habitat for Humanity office doing paperwork and her family worked shoveling gravel into the new house's foundation.
"Those who receive homes from Habitat don't get the house free, but they get an interest-free loan based on the household's income," John said.
Habitat for Humanity relies heavily on its volunteers to build houses and to organize its events.
"The more volunteers we have, the quicker the houses go up. We usually need 10 to 15 volunteers to get the house built in a reasonable amount of time," Polaski said.
"We are just trying to make life a little better for people," John said.