EAST PEORIA — Teaming up for the first time, nonprofit organizations Habitat for Humanity Greater Peoria Area, Team Depot and Team Rubicon framed a new East Peoria home for U.S. Army veteran James Stevens Dec. 1-4.
“It means a lot that people are willing to show up on their weekends and set aside time to help someone else,” Stevens said.
Stevens joined the U.S. Army in 2010, completing his basic training at Fort Benning, Georgia. Deployed to Afghanistan in 2012, Stevens was stationed at combat outpost Zerok in the mountains.
“Being stationed in the mountains, away from your family and friends, makes you appreciate the small things in your life,” Stevens said. “Especially since your only communication is by the mail, which is a slow time getting to you.”
As the selected recipient of Habitat Greater Peoria Area’s third military home in three years, Stevens will finish 250 to 500 sweat equity hours including laboring on his own house. Construction at Stevens’ jobsite will continue through the winter with teams of volunteers working every Saturday.
“Our military builds are always very successful,” Habitat Greater Peoria Area Executive Director Lea Anne Schmidgall said. “The community all comes together to make better changes for veterans returning home.”
Team Depot, Home Depot associate-volunteer force, has assisted with all three of Habitat Greater Peoria Area’s military builds.
“Team Depot has helped us all along. They have a special partnership with veterans,” Schmidgall said.
Volunteer force Team Rubicon, which was formed by U.S. Marine veterans Jake Wood and William McNulty, supports Habitat for Humanity projects across the country, although Stevens’ home build marks the first collaboration between the two organizations in the Peoria area.
“We work a lot with Habitat nationwide, and we love that they have that veteran aspect as well,” Team Rubicon Region 5 Communication Director Ashley Slover said.
Team Rubicon’s Region 5 mobilizes volunteers from Minnesota, Michigan, Illinois, Indiana and Iowa, sending them to disaster areas and jobsites nationwide and abroad. Region 5 provided 10 to 15 volunteers for Stevens’ house-framing weekend.
“Team Rubicon was our ticket to a whole other level,” Schmidgall said. “What they got done in four days usually takes 14 weeks.”
After the house-framing weekend, Team Rubicon volunteers returned home. Slover said Team Rubicon volunteers will return to the jobsite, offering assistance when they can, until Stevens’ home is complete. Schmidgall said Stevens’ home is on track to be finished by or before March 2017.
Stevens then will become a first-time homeowner. Habitat arranges for their homeowners to have no-interest, 20-year mortgage loans with monthly payments of less than $600.
Schmidgall said that, considering the success Habitat Greater Peoria Area’s first three military builds have achieved, she wants to complete one military build every year. Schmidgall also wants to extend Habitat’s resources and services to home-owning veterans for critical repair and restoration projects.
Stevens’ new home is located at 109 Mabee Ave. in East Peoria. To get involved in Stevens’ or another Habitat home build, visit the website www.habitatpeoria.org.