MONTICELLO — Habitat for Humanity Piatt County will definitely build a ninth home. Just when it will be constructed will depend on a fundraising campaign the organization recently announced.
Organizers of the local Habitat — which built its first house in 1999 — have picked up the pace in recent years and need to replenish funds in order to proceed with its next project.
"We've built three houses in three years, but now we're out of money," said Larry McClure. "If we don't raise this money, we won't build the next house in DeLand until 2014, or whenever we get the funds."
The goal is to raise at least $10,000 by next spring.
"We're asking for all contributions, but also seeking major contributors willing to make a commitment to donate $5,000 over a period of five years," added McClure. Those who give at that level, or who donate a building lot, will be listed on a 4- by 8-foot sign that travels to the Habitat building sites.
Another reason for a lower bank account relates to last year's warm winter. Habitat typically raises about $15,000 annually through firewood sales, but made closer to $10,000 last year because people didn't need as much wood because of the mild weather.
The group has added a distribution point in Cerro Gordo this year in order to serve the southern portion of the county during the firewood sale. Volunteers help deliver the wood. Those wanting to order firewood can call 217-762-9500.
One misunderstanding that volunteers like McClure and fellow Habitat volunteer Max Olson fight is the perception that people get a free home through the organization. In reality, recipients must qualify financially, are responsible for a $500 down payment, deliver 250 "sweat equity" hours per adult in building the house, and pay the mortgage through a no-interest loan.
"It's not free, but it's the deal of a lifetime," said Olson, who along with McClure has been involved with Habitat since the first local home was constructed in 1999.
With about 200 volunteers throughout the county, manpower is not a problem once construction begins. But funding is a challenge. McClure emphasizes that every dollar raises goes back into building more homes.
"Every dollar contributed is put into the building of a home and is paid back by the homeowner. That dollar is then put into the building of another home, and so on," he added.
Habitat For Humanity in Piatt County has built eight homes, including three in Bement, two in Cerro Gordo, and one each in Monticello, Atwood and DeLand. The most recent was a home dedicated in Cerro Gordo on Sept. 30.
A second home in DeLand would be the ninth, and a site in Monticello is next on the list.
Those interested in donating to the local organization can call Dean Howarter at 217-377-0197, Larry McClure at 217-369-9485, Max Olson 217-762-7936 or Tyson Wingler at 217-840-0213.