Operating below the radar of most folks living in the Hannibal area, the dedicated volunteers of the Mark Twain Area Habitat for Humanity (MTAHFH) work diligently to build "safe, decent, affordable housing for some of the neediest families in the area. They follow the belief held by the organization "that as Christians, we honor God by building simple, decent homes in partnership with families in need of shelter." Worldwide, Habitat has constructed more than 200,000 houses, providing shelter for more than 1 million people.
MTAHFH gained a 501C-3 non-profit status in 1994. Four years later in 1998, the group had purchased a home sight, recruited volunteers and raised enough funds to complete the first house. Since then, seven energy efficient and comfortable homes have been built.
Construction of the houses does not begin until adequate funding is secured. Recipients are selected through a process set forth by Habitat For Humanity International, and a local family selection committee. Those chosen must provide a minimum of 300 "sweat equity" hours in the building phase, and also pay for the cost of construction, accomplished with free labor and at no interest. Property for the next Habitat home has been purchased and is located at 410 Riverside Street, Hannibal. Ground-breaking is scheduled for Spring of 2014, and the process for selection of a family has begun.
Not surprisingly, with sound leadership and dedicated volunteers, MTAHFH has grown tremendously since 1998. More volunteers have been recruited, new sources of funding have been added, a strong Board of Directors has been put in place, and construction capability/efficiency has improved dramatically. According to the local Habitat website, "To date, May 1, 2008, no mortgage or escrow payment has ever defaulted which indicates the value each Habitat for Humanity Homeowner places upon his home."
Current officers of this charitable organization include: Wayne Harbourn (president), Bruce Athman (vice-president), Stephanie Thomeczek (secretary), and Kerri Willing (treasurer). Active Board Members are: Buddy Tarleton, Linda Clark, Trey Hall, Joe Wilcox, Carolyn McHardy, Matt Oleksy, and Paul Krause.
Three years ago, MTAHFH launched a popular fundraising tournament held at Norwoods Golf Club. Participants have discovered that it is a fun opportunity to invest in the community while enjoying an afternoon of golf with friends, business associates, and co-workers. Area businesses have been very generous in sponsoring holes and providing food, beverages, as well as free items for the golf goodie bags and door prizes. The 2013 Tournament was chaired by Bruce Athman, with energetic support from Wayne Harbourn, Buddy Tarteton, Carolyn McHardy, Linda Clark, Joe Wilcox, Paul Krause, Trey Hall, Mike Oleksy, and Stephanie Thomeczek. A total of twenty-nine, 4 person teams enjoyed an 18 hole scramble,with lunch and a variety of prizes. After expenses and prize money, the event raised around $6,000. In the fall, a spaghetti dinner/silent auction fundraiser is traditionally held. Securing adequate funding for construction is one of the biggest hurdles that the volunteers face, so the success of these fundraising events can mean the difference between building a home every year, or struggling to complete one every other year.
The popularity and recognition of this fun golfing event has increased in a short period of time. This year, an all-girl team calling itself "Weapons of Grass Destruction" received a prize for having a player from the farthest away. Ann Marie Brusenhan lives in Centennial, Colorado, but has been a lifelong friend of Charlotte Scranton who resides in Quincy, IL. The two women were backyard, "mud pie" making buddies during their childhood days in East St. Louis, IL. Even though Ann Marie moved to Colorado in 1979, the two have remained close friends, reuniting at least once a year to play golf or to ski. Charlotte's two coworkers from the Blessing Hospital Lab also played on the team. Kathy Long is from Canton, MO and Karen McFarland lives in Quincy. The three golf enthusiasts have worked together for almost 30 years, and when Charlotte heard a public service announcement about the Habitat tournament, it was natural for all four mutual friends to get a team together. The catchy name for their group (Weapons of Grass Destruction) was found on the internet. When asked about their experience in the tournament, they vowed to return again next year to enjoy the fun and fellowship the event offers, while helping to support such a worthy organization in its mission to provide decent affordable housing, working in partnership with motivated and deserving families.
What an appropriate summary of the work of the MTAHFH.