Habitat for Humanity of Mifflin County is breaking new ground on more than just another house.
From one-day assistance projects to fundraising campaigns and community partnerships, program leaders say changes are under way.
"We try to bring the best out in people," said Jeff Bell, president of the organization, all while striving to meet one goal - provide affordable, decent housing to everyone.
Juniata Valley Family photo by JULIANNE CAHILL
Construction began in late October on a new Habitat for Humanity house, which will be located at 718 W. Fifth St., Lewistown.
Construction has started on donated property located at 718 W. Fifth St., Lewistown. While human labor is volunteered by the community at no cost, Bell said the process of gathering funds for materials is taking a new turn.
The local Habitat chapter is launching a fundraising effort allowing individuals to make specific donations to fund construction materials and household accessories.
"We have about $30,000 raised so far," Bell said, adding that an average Habitat house in Mifflin County costs about $60,000.
Bell has organized a list of needs - windows, doors, flooring, lighting and more - that can be donated for a specific cost. He said donations may be as low as $30 for a gallon of paint or several thousand dollars to fund the installation of drywall or insulation.
This effort allows donors to see specifically how their money is used, he said, creating a greater sense of community ownership in the project.
This sponsorship opportunity recently was picked up by Thrivent, a formerly Lutheran-based nonprofit organization. Habitat secretary Wanda McCullough said the agency recently moved to a broader Christian focus and is now partnering with the Mifflin County chapter of Habitat for the first time.
Thrivent financial associate Lori Henry said the first donation of $1,000 will purchase four of 13 windows needed for the new house on West Fifth Street. The partnership is expected to continue as more funding becomes available.
Partnering with families to support other families is what it's all about, McCullough said.
"There's a stigma that everything is given," Bell said.
But it's really just a helping hand.
Families are required to join volunteers for a minimum of 500 hours of work on the house and must pay back a 25- to 30-year interest-free loan on the home.
"It's a win-win," McCullough said, explaining that providing for families in need benefits the community as a whole.
With every project, individuals, churches, nonprofit organizations, local boroughs and other groups band together to improve the quality of life in Mifflin County.
In their continued effort to give back, Habitat for Humanity of Mifflin County also is kicking off a second program, "A Brush With Kindness." McCullough said the program focuses on one-day exterior home preservation projects.
Homeowners must supply money to fund the projects. According to the agency's website, the program is designed to revitalize the appearance of the neighborhood and preserve affordable housing in the area.
Habitat for Humanity of Mifflin County has been providing affordable housing for the community for about 11 years. For more information about the organization, call Jeff Bell at 348-5161 or visit mifflinhabitat.org.