Iowa Valley Habitat for Humanity (IVHFH) does not operate on an island. We’re enthused by those in the community and industry who believe in a better life for others. In fact, earlier in the year, our executive director ran into Andy Martin of Martin Construction at a Johnson County Affordable Housing Coalition meeting. He joked with Andy, saying he looked tired and ragged. Andy explained that he was running on fumes, but still managed to drag himself to the meeting. A few months prior to that, GT Karr of Sueppel’s Siding & Remodeling met with our construction staff and I to discuss ways to provide energy audits for low-income residents in our community. And, last fall, Katie Lammers of Lammers Construction and her crew spent most Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at our Women Build, working with volunteers to build a house for an underserved Iowa City family. Finally, Jane Hagedorn, recently retired from Bea Day Plumbers, has spent the better part of 15 years volunteering her time for various IVHFH initiatives. For her efforts, she was inducted into the Iowa Volunteer Hall of Fame in April.
Which leads me to our featured project. Last February, a social worker from the University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics called IVHFH to inform us that one of its patients needed a wheelchair ramp. He could no longer manage the steps on his porch and consequently missed several medical appointments. As a result, he was hospitalized with a life threatening condition and prevented from returning home until he could safely enter and exit his house.
Within a week of receiving the call, we’d constructed a ramp and the gentleman was recovering in the comfort of his home. The simple ramp was not a feat of ingenuity. Three guys chipped ice from the sidewalk and then built it with treated lumber, brackets, nails and screws above it. But the project still is noteworthy. It greatly improved somebody’s quality of life, because safe, affordable and decent housing is a basic necessity. It’s a necessity that improves physical health; a necessity that helps children perform better in school; a necessity that allows individuals and families to stand on more stable financial footing.
Too many people live without this necessity, so we build. We get a lot of help from volunteers like Katie and Jane. We draw inspiration from affordable housing advocates like GT and Andy. We lean on our colleagues in the trades, including Karyl Bohnsack, Larry Nelson, Bryan Bunting, Alex Andino, Mike Homewood, Jake Stransky, Jeff Bergo and the staff at Tomlinson-Canon. However, this list isn’t exhaustive.
So, to all IVHFH supporters, we say thank you. We couldn’t build without you.
Article written by Scott Hawes, Helping Hands Manager, Iowa Valley Habitat for Humanity
Featured in the August 2019 edition of the Iowa City Area Home Builder's Association Builders News