Topeka Habitat for Humanity continues to overcome challenges while serving the community

Local News

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) — Topeka Habitat for Humanity has had to overcome some challenges recently in its mission to promote affordable housing in Shawnee County.

There’s a saying at the Topeka Habitat for Humanity Restore that today’s donation is tomorrow’s home.

The group accepts new and used furniture along with building materials and sells it to the public at a fraction of the original cost.

Mike McGee is an engineer by trade and has been a volunteer for the past six years. He helps give used appliances new life.

“I spend most of my time in the back recycling materials that we can’t sell as well as repairing light fixtures, ceiling fans, anything that we can repair and sell,” McGee said.

The money they make from the restore helps fund programs like their Partnership Homeowner Program.

“Once a year, we do select individuals and families for our Partnership Homeowner Program, which is about a year to a year and a half process,” CEO Janice Watkins said. “We work with them to make sure they’re ready for home ownership.”

Volunteers and contractors work together to build the homes for the program’s participants. But over the past couple of months, they’ve run into some challenges that have slowed that process down.

One of them being the coronavirus, which caused the restore to close for eight weeks and has limited the use of volunteers.

“One of the main things is that we rely upon volunteers,” Watkins said. “So, one of the ways that we build safe and affordable shelter is by utilizing our volunteer work force to build our homes and we could not welcome them for almost two months.”

On top of that, their scaffolding was stolen from their build site.

“Progress on our current construction is going very slowly right now,” Watkins said.

The scaffolding went missing from the build site at Southwest 27th Street and Southwest Buchanan Street two weeks ago. Watkins said they really need it back to finish construction on the house.

In the meantime, people in the community have been raising money to help them buy a new one.

One of their contractors, Chris Blackburn with Blackburn Plumbing who does repairs for the organization says any contribution would be helpful.

“There’s a fundraiser on Facebook,” Blackburn said. “If you could just give five bucks to get their scaffolding back that somebody decided they wanted to take off the job site, you know, just five dollars goes a long way for them.”

Despite all of the roadblocks they’ve had to endure, their desire to help the community is what’s keeping them going.

To find out how you can donate, click HERE.

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