Posted on Jun 30, 2018

Habitat for Humanity had a presence in Grinnell sometime ago.  It can do so again. All that is needed is ten good volunteers.


That was the message that Lance Henning, executive director of Greater Des Moines Habitat for Humanity, had for Rotarians at its weekly meeting held Tues., June 19.


A native of Iowa, Henning became involved with Habitat through a church study group as a young student.  He made it his career after college, serving as executive director in Kansas City and 15 years in Des Moines.


Henning said that Habitat partners with the community to build affordable housing for people in need.  They also provide critical home repair opportunities. The Des Moines Office currently has projects and volunteers in Polk, Dallas and Jasper counties.


The typical family that is helped by Habitat has to meet three criteria: need, willingness to partner, and the ability to pay.  The homebuyers put in sweat equity into their own home as well as render volunteer hours at other Habitat homes. They are required to take the Blueprint to Homeownership course that focuses on financial education and homeownership responsibilities.  They purchase their home from Habitat with an affordable mortgage.


Volunteers are at the heart of Habitat.  One does not need to have construction experience, according to Henning.  There are experienced people who will show volunteers what needs to be done for a particular project.  Henning said, “You will be surprised by what you can do.”


Typical projects are exterior home repair, weatherization, safety and accessibility improvements, and landscape planting.


Another Habitat service is ReStore, a store that sells new and used home improvement materials at discounted prices.  There are two ReStore locations in the Greater Des Moines area. Habitat also has a tool lending library available to volunteers to borrow tools.


Habitat is currently in 70 countries and in all 50 states in the US, Washington D.C., and Puerto Rico.  The most famous Habitat volunteer is President Jimmy Carter, who at 93, still renders 20 hours of volunteer work when he is on a job.  He’ll be in South Bend, IN, soon, and was in Canada for a project last year.


The Grinnell Rotary Club meets every Tuesday at 6 p.m. at West Side Dining on 6th Ave., Grinnell.