By Loretta Gillespie
The Cullman Times
HOLLY POND —
On March 31, 2012, the first nail was hammered in the house that Habitat built. On that auspicious first day of construction, approximately 80 people who had their hearts in the right place showed up for work. They came from everywhere around Cullman, tools in hand, to help in whatever way they could. Some were old hands at construction, some were as green as a gourd, but they all wanted to pitch in and get the job done.
“When we got there, nothing but a new slab was visible on the property. By sunset, the house was framed in and had a roof,” said Habitat For Humanity board member, Gene Crutchfield. A roofing crew was part of the volunteer workforce that day. Another company provided duct work and the labor to install it.
Dennis Guthrie, of Guthrie Construction Company in Cullman, was instrumental in overseeing the project. “He made many, many trips out here to make sure that everything was coordinated and done properly,” praised Crutchfield. “He made sure that every phase of the house was done in the correct order and up to specifications.”
“It was amazing,” said Crutchfield, who officially handed over the keys to the completed house to Lec Shaw and her son, Bruce, last Monday.
The house, which is in Holly Pond, was built with Bruce in mind. The young man was hurt at football practice, an injury which left him paralyzed but able to get around in a wheelchair. Special width doors, lower counter tops and sinks and hardwood floors were added for his convenience.
“We also chose special hardware for the doors,” Bruce pointed out. “Even our dog, Copper, can open them.”
Copper, a beautiful blood hound takes all this with a stoic yawn, not so much as blinking an eye as his master bragged about how smart and what a wonderful companion he is.
The house is tastefully appointed, and done in soothing colors of Garden Sage, Lattice, Oak Creek and Dromedary Camel.
Lec Shaw thinks she might just like her new kitchen best of all. An accomplished Thai cook, Lec made special mention of her beautiful cabinets. The counter tops were donated.
Other building materials donated to the project were insulation, decking, plywood, doors, and a septic tank.
The Shaws had previously lived in a nice rental house, but the doors were much too small to accommodate Bruce’s wheelchair and there were other minor inconveniences that made his life difficult. Now, with the addition of a rail system donated by the family of Dennis Eidson, he finds it much easier to be more independent.
The house, which sits on property previously owned by the Shaws, was built by the joint efforts of the Habitat For Humanity program, the community, and the Shaws. A “square-foot” fundraiser was held, which got the whole thing off the ground with a running start. “We sold tickets representing square feet of the house to individuals and businesses for $60 per ticket,” explained Crutchfield. “Several people bought more than one square foot. We raised a total of $49,000 with that fundraiser."
Habitat board members, along with various clubs in the county as well as individuals and Wallace State Community College students made and sold additional donations. Materials and services were also donated, such as year of free pest control and a six-month membership to the Cullman Wellness and Aquatic Center. "With those additional donations included, the amount was raised to approximately $60,000," said Crutchfield.
The purchase of a $60 square foot ticket entitled the winner to be eligible for a prize drawing. Two of the winners, Bruce’s grandmother, Ruth Shaw, and a friend, Scotty Hooper, won big screen televisions which they turned around and donated back to the house.
The local churches volunteered time, effort and talent to feed the hungry workers throughout the build and also provided labor. “All the churches and everyone involved have been so good to us,” said a grateful Lec Shaw. “I don’t know how to thank them all.”
The students and faculty of Holly Pond High School also played a large part in this project.
“I wish I had thought to get everyone’s name and address so that I could go and thank each one personally,” said Bruce. “But since I didn’t, I’d like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who helped in any way.”
The hundreds of volunteers who helped with this and other Habitat homes are indeed special people. Furnishing free labor to strangers is a real demonstration of what can be done when people pitch in and help a good cause.
“There are lots of good people around here,” said Crutchfield.
“It was just amazing,” nodded Bruce. “You just don’t realize that strangers will actually come out and help, but they do.”
“One person that I do know I want to thank is Raymond Williams at Merchants Bank, who is Chairman of the Board of Habitat,” said Bruce. “He was such a big help to us.”
The Shaws have been through a lot of stress since Bruce’s accident, but now that they are settled into their new home, they can relax and enjoy it. Bruce has taken up playing chess, and Lec will soon be planting a garden. Bruce enjoys feeding the deer and seeing the view from their kitchen window. Their lives have changed in many ways, but Lec says that through it all they have made so many new friends and have seen the good in so many people.
The Shaws extend their special thanks to the following for their support and funding for this project:
The Surgery Center of Cullman
The Cullman Rotary Club
The Cullman Realtors Association
Other major contributors were:
The Holly Pond Civitans
The Holly Pond Key Club
The Holly Pond Booster Club
First Baptist Church of Holly Pond
Louisiana Pacific of Hanceville
The fifth-grade class at Good Hope
Several Sunday school classes from churches all over Cullman County
Classes, students and instructors at Wallace State Community College who both bought and helped to sell the tickets
Additional thanks to the many others, too numerous to name, both locally and from as far away as Spanish Fort, Montgomery and Birmingham and Debary, Fla., who sent in monetary donations.