Volunteers are ready with a new home
YATES COUNTY—Fifteen months of work is coming to a finish at the latest Habitat for Humanity house in Penn Yan, but for many volunteers the total amount of time invested in helping others spans many years.
This is habitat’s 12th house being renovated or built with a family’s help in Yates County. Charlie Marks said almost all of the work is done by volunteers, who are now retired. He explained all workers contribute a skill they learned from a professional career or through home ownership. He added volunteers include two electricians, one plumbing contractor, and two design engineers.
“I’m happy to do this for the people,” said Marks. He explained he gets satisfaction from helping people get a home. “It’s great to watch them work and to watch the family move in.”
Yates County Habitat for Humanity Director John Keenan said there is a core of 15 to 20 volunteers who show up to work on the houses regularly. He explained when a house is being renovated, most work is done on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Keenan said this was the first year the county’s SWEAP (Sheriff’s Weekend Alternate Program) had prisoners work on the house. He added a group of Penn Yan students even landscaped some of the lawn as part of a community service day.
Helen Stuart contributes by tackling the painting that needs to be done in high places. She’s painted the trim, shutters, and railing spokes of the current house. She said over the years of volunteering she has learned a lot of skills just by watching: from dry walling to improvements in painting.
Stuart said she started volunteering for habitat in 1995. She added she does a lot of community service. As a former teacher, Stuart said it’s important for children have a good home. One of her memories is asking one of five children what he liked best about his family’s new home. Stuart said the kid replied with “a bed of my own.”
“It’s got to be a labor of love,” she said.
Les and Wanda Wood have been involved in Habitat for Humanity since 1997, when the couple lived in Chicago. Les Wood said he was born and raised here and decided to retire here in 2000. He described himself as having always been a “do it yourself”-er. Wood added he was trained in the construction trade.
However, habitat projects still managed to expand his knowledge base. Wood said one former project involved separating a modular home, lifting it off its original site, and reassembling it at a new location on Skyline Drive.
Herb and Suzanne Lucas are another couple who volunteer their time for habitat. Suzanne Lucas said they first learned about the group about 20 years ago when Habitat for Humanity was set up at the Windmill Farm and Craft Market. She said her husband offered to do sheet rock and textured ceiling work. That involvement grew to serving as the co-supervisor for three houses.
Lucas added she does public relations work for the group. She said the couple will continue to volunteer for as long as they can, but added they are getting older. Lucas said she likes, “being able to help those who need a boost, watch families grow.”
The dedication for the current house will be Sunday, July 24, at 109 North Ave., Penn Yan, from 2 to 4 p.m.