Our coronavirus coverage is free for the first 24 hours. Find the latest information at Please consider subscribing or donating.

  1. Archive

Volunteers join to build Habitat house with love

"Love, laugh and trust, (is) the recipe for a good life" is printed on one of the boards that frames Amanda Martinez's new home. It was signed by the Macums.

Martinez and her three children will move into this house, a house built with love, in late January or early February of next year.

The four-bedroom, 1,400-square-foot house, is the inaugural house for Central Pasco's Habitat for Humanity.

Several boards, purchased for $5 apiece at the recent Flapjack Festival, are signed by well-wishers.

This weekend, during intermittent rain showers, the house was started at Pasco Lakes Estates, 5 miles north of State Road 52 off U.S. 41.

"I would never have thought when I filled out the application that I would be the one God would choose for this home," said Martinez at the groundbreaking in October.

On Sunday, as the sun broke through clouds for the first time in two days, the toting, hammering and sawing continued.

"The walls went up yesterday, in spite of the workers sloshing in the water," said Linda Hitchcock, wife of Don Hitchcock, the president of the local chapter. "They would sweep the slab and keep on trucking."

Habitat for Humanity was started in 1976 by Millard and Linda Fuller, and is based in Americus, Ga. Since it was formed, 125,000 houses have been built in more than 80 countries, including 45,000 across the United States. An ecumenical nonprofit, nondenominational Christian housing organization, Habitat provides interest free housing for people who are in need yet can afford to pay the mortgage. In addition to paying their mortgage, taxes and insurance, they must invest hours of their own labor during building.

Martinez should invest 400 hours into her house by the time it is complete.

"When she is through, she will know the ins and outs of this house," said Don Hitchcock.

The interest free idea comes from the Bible, Hitchcock said.

"The Bible says if you lend money to poor people, you will not change interest," he said.

On Saturday, 43 workers showed up to frame her house, including Martinez.

"The exterior and interior walls would have been completed if it had not rained," said Doug Tripp, the crew leader and a board member of the local chapter of the organization.

On Sunday, 20 volunteers were there at 8 a.m. with more expected after church. The workers hoped to get the roof on and the interior walls completed before dark.

When the weather was dry last week, the foundation was poured including the porch floor.

When completed, the house will be worth between $45,000 and $50,000.

Even though the rain delayed part of the building, other areas of the work seemed to fall into place, Hitchcock said.

"Sheriff (Bob) White had a van take a passenger to an Atlanta prison, and they stopped in Americus (on the way back) and brought a van load of tools and supplies for the house," he said. "All the lumber was donated, too, but the donor doesn't want his name used."

The volunteers, who all work for free, are mainly tradesmen, except for a few like Beth Johnson of Wesley Chapel.

"My sister (Mary Bartel) is involved, and I decided it would be fun for us to work together," Johnson said. "We live together and we've been blessed by God and it is time to give back."

She said she does whatever she is told to do. "Wherever I can help," she said. "It's amazing to me how volunteers can work together to build a house."

Another volunteer, Lou Molnar, was filming the project.

"Whenever they say, "Hey, you,' I do it," he said.

Molnar is the owner of two offices of Advantage Team Realty, Coldwell Banker, a sponsor of Habitat for Humanity.

"Whenever Coldwell has an international conference, we will build a house in three days with all the funds donated by Coldwell," he said.

Linda Hitchcock, who volunteers with her husband, said she is a nonnailing volunteer.

"Any go-fer (thing) they need, except nailing, I will do," she said. "I want the house to stay up, so I promised not to do nails."

On another board, that would be eventually covered with dry wall, plaster and paint, someone wrote the following: Look how the Lord blessed you. We love you and wish you the best, signed D O E.

Another message, with a unreadable signature, hoped Martinez would enjoy her home and have a healthy and happy life in it.

Up next:BIRTHS