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Humanity at Work

Posted: 2009-06-17 11:15:59

A huge thank you to our local media for sharing the Thrivents Builds story this summer, and especially for your coverage of yesterday's Build with the Bishop! Read the story in today's Mesabi Daily News (http://www.virginiamn.com/articles/2009/06/17/news/doc4a386ba2bc616458961905.txt) and in the upcoming Eveleth Range Scene! We were also highlighted in last night's news on Channels 10/13 (http://www.wdio.com/article/stories/S983901.shtml)!

Habitat house in West Eveleth 1 of 5 to be built on Range
By ANGIE RIEBE
Staff Writer
Published: Wednesday, June 17, 2009 2:46 PM CDT

WEST EVELETH, Angela Curry stood amid a construction site Tuesday morning, taking a break from building and watching in wonderment as more than 50 volunteers raised the framework of a new home.

Her new home.

It’s something the mother has wanted for a long time for her herself and her young son, a safe place where soon-to-be 3-year-old Nathan, who loves to ride bikes, can play outside in a yard and help his mom plant a garden. A place where they will be near family and close enough to a baseball field to walk to games. “It’s nice and quiet, there are kids his age,” she said of the West Eveleth neighborhood. “It will be nice to be here.” Much different than their current residence in an Eveleth apartment that is small and barely affordable for Curry and has no outdoor space for Nathan to run around or pedal a bicycle.

“I’m really excited to have a house for myself and Nate,” said Curry, a 1996 Virginia High School graduate.

“I can’t believe all the work that’s been done and it’s only 11:30 (a.m.),” she said Tuesday, the first day of the build. “It’s nice to see all the support.”

Her home, set to be complete by this fall, is one of five North St. Louis County Habitat for Humanity houses being constructed this year on the Iron Range. Another is in the works in Babbitt, and soon construction will begin on a home in Aurora, and later others in Virginia and Hibbing.

“The Habitat branch was able to build ‘an extra house’ this year, the Curry home, thanks to funding from the not-for-profit Thrivent Financial for Lutherans,” said Nathan Thompson, executive director of North St. Louis County Habitat for Humanity.

The West Eveleth house is part of the Thrivent Builds with Habitat for Humanity partnership” a four-year, $125 million alliance between Thrivent Financial for Lutherans and Habitat for Humanity International.

Thrivent Builds contributes 65 percent of construction costs. The remaining funds come from Thrivent chapters and Habitat affiliates. And at least half of the volunteers working on Thrivent Builds homes are Lutheran and one-fourth are Thrivent Financial members.

“This is the most volunteers we’ve ever had,” Thompson said. “It’s really a team effort.”

Tuesday’s volunteers included Bishop Tom Aitken of the Northeastern Minnesota Synod, ELCA who was on-site for the “Build with the Bishop Day” along with synod staff. Pastors and members of local churches including Gethsemane Lutheran, Messiah Lutheran and Our Savior’s Lutheran and 11 high school students from Voyageurs Lutheran Ministry joined with 10 Habitat site leaders from throughout the county to work on the project.

“There’s a lot of Lutherans coming together to build,” said Meagan Esterby, an AmeriCorps VISTA worker with Habitat for Humanity.

Eveleth donated the lot at 202 15th Ave. W. for Curry’s home, which will be about 1,100-square-feet with three bedrooms and one bathroom. There will also be a storage shed, “perfect for housing things such as Nathan’s bike,” Esterby said.

Thrivent Financial contributed $63,635 toward the $89,000 home. The North St. Louis County Habitat affiliate is funding 25 percent, $24,475, and Thrivent chapters are raising the remaining 10 percent, $9,790.

Habitat homes are sold to partner families at no profit, and monthly mortgage payments for homeowners average $360. Habitat families must also put in “sweat equity.”

Curry said she will put in 200 hours of work, and her family and friends will also contribute 100 hours. Her grandfather, who poured the slab, had already accomplished 50 hours, she said.

“Habitat is a great partnership,” said Curry, who applied for a Habitat home with high hopes but never really expecting she’d be chosen. Habitat’s selection committee picks families based on willingness to become partners with the program and ability to repay the no-interest mortgage.

Bishop Aitken said Tuesday’s endeavor was a way for volunteers to live out the Christian faith” to “put hands to it, bodies to it ... to concretize it.”

The Lutheran motto is “Gods work. Our hands,” he said. “Jesus’ way of living was being with people, using his hands to bless people. This is a blessing to the family.” Paraphrasing Martin Luther, Aitken said, “to do good works for our neighbor is how we show love for God.”

Members of Voyageurs Lutheran Ministry’s Camp Vermilion led the group in prayer and in a song with actions prior to a break for a lunch prepared by women of Gethsemane Lutheran Church. “Thank the Lord for giving us food, right where we are,” they sang, getting everyone involved with the hand and leg motions. “Hallelujah, praise the Lord, right where we are.”

“This is a great opportunity for VLM and the high school kids,” said counselor Mike Lee. It was one of the camp’s summer work project days, said Jaime Olson.

Some 200 volunteers are expected to help with Curry’s home, including a traveling group of Habitat for Humanity workers. And other local churches, such as Resurrection Catholic and Hope Presbyterian, will have volunteers at the build in coming days, Esterby said. “There’s a lot of great community and church support.”

By early evening Tuesday, volunteers expected to have the home framed and tresses up, Thompson said, adding that Curry’s home is fittingly located within view of the very first Habitat home built in Northern St. Louis County ” just down the street from Scott and Ann Hanson’s Habitat house - our affiliate’s first build.

Watching and partaking in the community effort “is very satisfying,” Thompson said, encouraging others to “come out and help.”

“This is a happy day,” he said.