MIDDLEPORT, Ohio — Linda Nease recently took possession of her new home, built by volunteers working through Habitat for Humanity of Southeastern Ohio.
The scene could have been lifted straight from “It’s a Wonderful Life,” with the new homeowner standing with family as gifts of flowers, bread, salt, and more were offered in a traditional blessing by those volunteers and sponsors who helped to make Nease’s new home a reality.
Ken Oehlers, executive director of Habitat for Humanity of Southeastern Ohio, spoke briefly, explaining how Habitat for Humanity came to be in Meigs County. Approximately 18 months ago, the organization approached the county commissioners about expanding into the county. Habitat met with a positive reception, and a few phone calls later, it was official: Habitat for Humanity was coming to Meigs County.
“We’re always interested in investing in our community. This is one of the worthwhile ventures, to be one of the first ones to sponsor a house in Meigs County,” Mark Porter, owner of Mark Porter Chevrolet Buick GMC, said during the dedication ceremony. “Hopefully for Habitat, and Meigs County, we’ll see more of these things going up. These guys are going to have a great home.”
The Meigs High School football team built the wall sections in about two and a half hours, which is a record, according to Oehlers. On the two blitz days, at least 60 volunteers showed up each day, with more on the second day — some of the volunteers from the day before returned to help some more. This, along with the reception from the community in general, has made working in Meigs County a great experience for Samantha Waldron. Waldron is the Director for Community Engagement for Athens, Meigs, and Hocking Counties. She said, “It’s my favorite county.”
Waldron extends a special thank you to Bryan Smith, Construction Site Supervisor. He could be found at the build site every Wednesday through Saturday, whether there were volunteers available or not. According to Waldron, “He puts God’s love into action.”
Randy Smith spoke on behalf of the Meigs County Commissioners. “It was a no-brainer, when these folks showed up and started talking about the idea of putting a Habitat House in Meigs County. Oddly enough, we found out that there were a lot of folks who had no idea that there hadn’t been a Habitat House built in Meigs County.”
Once a grant was approved, Smith said, it was simply a matter of making a few phone calls. Mark Porter, Farmers Bank, and Ohio Valley Bank jumped at the opportunity to sponsor the build, and as Smith knew would happen, community volunteers stepped up to donate their time and expertise to building Nease’s house.
“One of the biggest misconceptions of Habitat [for Humanity] is that we give away homes. Our homebuyers go through educational programs. They work sweat equity hours. [They work] in the mission of Habitat and partnering with us. It is a hand up, not a hand out. And that allows for us to provide a zero percent interest on their mortgage,” said Lauren Oliver, director of family services.
Families must meet certain criteria to be eligible for a Habitat home, but they do not necessarily have to be living in poverty. They must meet three criteria: a need for shelter, the ability to pay for a habitat home, and a willingness to partner with Habitat for Humanity. For detail about these criteria, interested families can contact Habitat for Humanity of Southeastern Ohio by phone at 740-592-0032; on the web at http://www.habitatseo.org; via Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/HabitatSEO; or you can contact Samantha Waldron via email at [email protected] or by phone at 740-592-0032 ext. 102.
Mark Porter Chevrolet Buick GMC sponsored the wall build for Nease’s house; Farmers Bank and Ohio Valley Bank sponsored the Blitz Day. Other major sponsors included the Meigs County Commissioners and FHLB Cincinnati. The Meigs High School football team, Restoration Fellowship, Nazarene Church of Syracuse, Ash Street church, Trinity Church, Mt. Herman United Brethren in Christ, Middleport Church of Christ, Village of Middleport, Gallia Meigs Community Action, Gallia-Jackson-Meigs COC, Ohio Operating Engineers, Dow Chemical, Whirlpool Corporation, Valspar Paint, and Square D all contributed to the build.
(Editor’s note: To view a history of the house’s construction, see page A4.)
Jessica Marcum is a freelance writer for Ohio Valley Publishing.