If you’ve been on an Iowa Valley Habitat for Humanity construction site any time in the last 25 years, there’s a pretty good chance you’ve run into D’Grouch. William “D’Grouch” Laubengayer helped build over 100 Habitat homes with our affiliate—102 to be precise. William passed away in December of 2020, and we would like to take this time to honor the incredible man that he was.
William was always a bit of a legend around the Habitat offices. He’d been with the affiliate much longer than any of our current staff members and many of our volunteers. That coupled with a nickname like D’Grouch might have caused one to be a bit intimidated upon meeting him. However, getting to talk to and work alongside William, it quickly became clear that the self-imposed nickname was a bit of a misnomer. Grouch was a stickler for quality. Double- and triple-checking Construction Manager Christy’s measurements—often to wryly announce that she was off by a 64th of an inch—wasn’t out of the ordinary. If he was stern, it was because he wanted Habitat homes to be the best, pushing us to exceed code and permit requirements. Grouch wanted Habitat homes to be the highest possible quality, and he knew it could be done.
William was also an endless fount of knowledge that he was always happy to share. Countless Habitat volunteers and homeowners know the proper way to use a tool, the most efficient way to use materials, and the importance of not being done until it’s done right because they learned it from him. Grouch donated his personal shop’s tools to Habitat so that we could open D’Grouch Workshop in 2017. For years to come, Habitat volunteers will continue to learn important construction knowledge in a space built to honor him.
In the spring of 2017, William was one of three Iowans that year to be inducted into the Iowa Volunteer Hall of Fame. As a part of the nomination process, we did the math on all the time he has given over the years, and the numbers were staggering. In his 25 years with IVHFH, Grouch averaged 1,000 volunteer hours each year. On paper, or in a day planner, that looks like a lot of time. In reality, that looks like so many walls raised, volunteers taught, and families in safe, quality homes. Not to mention relationships built and smiles and laughs that were the result of a classic Grouch joke.
While this loss is impossibly difficult to bear, we vow to keep William’s spirit alive. We will continue to honor volunteers that go above and beyond with the annual William “D’Grouch” Laubengayer award. We will continue to instill in others the values he has instilled in us. And we will always remember that beneath that gruff exterior was a heart so filled with love, so filled with compassion, who we were blessed to know in this life. To William.
-Article written by Leda Rouse, IVHVH Volunteer Coordinator
Even in 2020, some traditions couldn’t be changed. Like each preceding year, autumn in 2020 brought pumpkins, costumes, piles of leaves, the first snow of the season, debates about the best Thanksgiving side dishes, and difficult decisions about white or dark meat. For Dana, the comforts that come with these traditions were nearly overshadowed by the stresses of a broken stove and critters sneaking through the gaps in the skirting of her mobile home. These worries were worsened by a loss of income. Without the financial means to replace her stove nor the ability to pay someone to winterize her home, Dana and her son were facing a winter of microwaveable meals and constant anxiety about whether the unwelcome guests below her home were causing damage. After hearing about our new ERMAR service, Dana called IVHFH to learn more about our work and request an application.
Since rolling out our ERMAR (Emergency Repair and Major Appliance Replacement) service on October 1, 2020, the response has been noteworthy. Our office has been inundated with calls from members of our community needing speedy, affordable, and trustworthy home repairs. Even prior to the pandemic home repairs and appliance replacement was a financial burden for many of our friends and neighbors, but the COVID-19 economy brought further hardship and greater demand for our services. Fortunately, our generous donors and amazing partners including the Community Foundation of Johnson County, St. Mary’s Peace and Justice Commission, Mid-American, and West Bank, have supported us in meeting these needs. Together we provided ERMAR services -including furnace replacement, furnace repair, simple electrical and plumbing repairs, roof patching, stove replacement, and winterization- to nine households in the last quarter of 2020. In keeping with our values and mission, each project was completed without creating a financial burden for the homeowners. And with demand remaining strong into 2021, we look forward to continuing our work so that members of our community have access to safe homes.
As for Dana, soon after receiving her application our staff saw to it that her home was winterized. Best of all, staff also arranged for a new stove to be installed before Thanksgiving. Even in 2020, she was allowed her to fill her plate with white meat, mashed potatoes, stuffing, and cranberries on the side. Some traditions can’t be changed.
-Article written by Scott Hawes, IVHFH Helping Hands Manager
Our Mission: Seeking to put God’s love into action, Habitat for Humanity brings people together to build homes, communities and hope.
A world where everyone has
a decent place to live.
- Demonstrate the love of Jesus Christ.
- Focus on shelter.
- Advocate for affordable housing.
- Promote dignity and hope.
- Support sustainable and transformative development.
We welcome all who believe that everyone needs a decent, affordable place to live. Habitat for Humanity International and its affiliated organizations do not proselytize.
Habitat will not offer assistance on the expressed or implied condition that people must either adhere to or convert to a particular faith, or listen and respond to messaging designed to induce conversion to a particular faith.