Editor’s note: This is the third in a series of stories that will follow the progress of Habitat for Humanity of Miami and Shelby Counties’ first project in Shelby County.
JACKSON CENTER — Construction, under the auspices of Habitat for Humanity of Miami and Shelby Counties (HHMSC), of a house in Jackson Center, continues on schedule, according to HHMSC Executive Director William Horstman.
The build is the first project in Shelby County of the Habitat organization since the Miami and Shelby County agencies merged in late 2014.
It would not be happening without the support of Airstream Inc., the major sponsor. The Jackson Center-based subsidiary of Thor Industries donated $80,000 in funding and has made its employees available to help with the build.
“It really came out of having significant growth and success in the years following the great recession,” said Airstream President Bob Wheeler. “We were looking ways to give back to the community. Habitat for Humanity had been on our radar for some time.”
When the company hosted a business-after-hours reception to open its new addition in December, it was the perfect opportunity for Horstman and Wheeler to connect.
HHMSC owned a lot in Jackson Center that had been donated some 10 years ago, before the Shelby County organization merged with the Miami County one.
“If we were ever going to build (on it), we needed community support. (At the reception), I introduced myself to Bob Wheeler and followed up a couple weeks later,” Horstman said.
“We knew (Habitat) had done a house in Jackson Center 10 years ago. We hope (this build) turns out to be a springboard for other builds in Shelby County and gets other businesses involved. We’re trying to prime the pump,” Wheeler said.
The match between Airstream and Habitat makes sense, he added.
“We knew we had people here that had skill sets and experience to contribute in a meaningful way. We know there’s a family in need. We know there’s something good and right about bulding a home for someone in need,” Wheeler said.
Airstream has been a significant donor to a number of local projects, but the donation has never before included labor.
“This is the first time we’ll be paying folks’ wages to volunteer to go work on a charitable cause,” Wheeler said. He and Senior Vice President of Operations Mark Wahl made an announcement about the build at a monthly plant meeting and posted a flier, giving Airstream employees the chance to sign up to help on company time.
“People think it’s a great thing. People seemed very enthused about it. The ones that signed up and turned out for the groundbreaking, you can tell they feel good about it,” Wheeler said.
He will be one of the onsite volunteers.
“I hope not to hit my thumb with a hammer,” he laughed. “I like rough carpentry, framing. I’m not so good with the finish work.” His construction experience has been limited to building several decks, a couple of tree houses and a zip line platform at his home.
At press time, the Jackson Center house was framed.
Horstman said he thought that by the end of the week, the house would be “dried in.” That means the outer shell of the house would be complete enough to keep weather elements from ruining the interior. Electricians were installing wiring earlier this week.
The target date for a dedication is sometime in August. When the house is complete, it will become the home of Kara Mullen and her children, Jaden Rice, 15, Delaney Rice, 12, and Sailor Mullen, 2, who have been renters in Sidney.
Reach the writer at 937-538-4824.
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