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Gimme shelter: Habitat seeks home of its own

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Detroit Lakes, 56501

Detroit Lakes Minnesota 511 Washington Avenue 56501

While Habitat for Humanity is in the process of building a home for someone else, the organization is looking for a home of its own.

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"As we continue to try to grow as an organization, we need to try to find a place to call our home, our Habitat home," Executive Director Brian Smith said.

Over the last two years, Habitat --the local chapter has been in existence for 10 years -- has acquired some tools and a trailer. Now board members are looking for a storage space to keep those items and others they pick up along the way.

Some of those things include building materials the organization gets for the annual auction sale held in the fall. Some items, "we pick it up because the price is right," Judy Jacobs said, who serves as co-publicity chair.

"We always have leftover materials you can tuck away and can use on the next house," Smith added.

He said a 26-foot by 36-foot building is a minimum of what the group needs for storage. Of course something bigger would be even better.

"It's the Christmas wish book -- you want this, you want this, but you work with what you have," he said.

Other cities have started a "restore," where the public can bring supplies to be donated to Habitat. Detroit Lakes would like to start that as well.

For now, there will be a semi-trailer parked at ColorTek, located on Highway 10 east of Detroit Lakes, for people to drop off new or gently used products for Habitat.

"There's a lot of growing pains, but it's a good problem to have," Jacobs said.

"Good growing pains," Smith agreed.

One of those things growing is the amount of houses going up in the area thanks to Habitat. With a Thrivent grant this year, Habitat is building a house in 2008, and trying to build a house every year.

"At least one every year is our goal," he said.

"As long as there is a need, and there is," Jacobs said.

For the 2007 house, there were six to eight applicants, and Riasa Fritz and her son Cameron were chosen. Their new home is being built five miles from Detroit Lakes in the Maple Hills Addition.

Habitat is hoping for even more applicants in the future.

Although they have a grant from Thrivent, it's only a partial grant, and the local chapter must come up with the remaining funds. For each house, between $60,000-$65,000 has to be raised for a simple one to two bedroom house.

"It's hard to give as freely as they used to," Smith said of the public donations.

Once built, the family is required to pay for the house at lower rates. They are also required to put in man hours when building the home.

Besides the Thrivent grant, the international Habitat has given the local chapter an incentive as well. It wants Habitat of DL to find 10 willing people to donate $100 each and international will give a $1,000 matching grant.

Area churches are also helping with building and raising funds. First Lutheran Church in Detroit Lakes is hosting a free-will pancake breakfast June 3 from 8 a.m. to noon, with proceeds going to Habitat.

Volunteers are one more aspect of Habitat the board is looking for.

"We offer a variety of opportunities," Jacobs said.

Everything from clean up to cooking, painting to roofing, (drywalling) to family support. Skilled tradesmen for electrical, plumbing, etc. are also needed.

Additional board members are needed to "take (the organization) into the future," Smith said. "To continue to success and grow, we need additional people. It's not just hammer and nails."

To volunteer or donate, call 844-5397, visit www.habitofdl.org, or e-mail info@habitatofdl.org.

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