Building positive influences

By Meagan Ramsay

Habitat for Humanity, a new ministry at Olivet, is building its second house with the Kankakee Habitat for Humanity in downtown Kankakee. Co-leader Keri Cannon (second from left) helps put up a wall. Photo by Kelsey Nelson

A home is the greatest gift a family could ever receive. A group of Olivet students spends their Saturdays in the community to make that gift possible.

Habitat for Humanity, a new ministry at Olivet, is currently building its second house with the Kankakee Habitat for Humanity in downtown Kankakee.

Students met in the Centennial Chapel parking lot April 2 to build the house’s framework. The day was called an “on-campus build” so students could more easily get involved by not having to leave campus.

Then everyone joined again April 9 to put the walls up at the actual building site downtown.

Habit for Humanity builds homes for families in need but who are able to support themselves. “They’re for families who are somewhat financially stable, but not enough to buy on their own,” said Olivet Habitat for Humanity co-leader Mark Lynn. “We want people to be able to succeed in the house after we’re gone.”

Students and other community members do the structural work, while professional volunteers take care of mechanical things such as plumbing and electricity.

Even students who have no experience using tools or doing manual labor can pitch in.

“We think everyone has a use. Even if they don’t know how to use a hammer, we help teach them. There is always some job that anyone can do,” Lynn said.

The construction normally takes at least eight months to complete, with work halting for winter weather or the students’ summer vacation, according to Lynn’s co-leader Keri Cannon. This summer the mechanical work will be completed, and students will return in the fall to begin work on the inside of house.

This is the fourth house that Habitat for Humanity of Kankakee has built. Cannon said that the contractors make improvements to the plan of every new home with the experience they gain from each construction.

“They have all the work experience and they volunteer their time to help,” she said.

A fundraiser for Habitat was recently held with proceeds going toward the kitchen cabinets. It also spread the word about Habitat’s mission.

“We improve the neighborhood. All the houses are rundown and some have boarded windows,” Cannon said. “We give a facelift to one home, and it’s a positive influence [in the neighborhood].”

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