CalsonicKansei building Habitat home

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

SHELBYVILLE - Bedford Builds Habitat for Humanity has received major support from a local industry, according to the director of the organization that provides new homes for working families in need.

CalsonicKansei of Shelbyville and Lewisburg are fully sponsoring a Habitat home, one that will be ready for its new owner this summer, according to Pam Birtcil of the Shelbyville-based Bedford Builds Habitat for Humanity.

A full-sponsorship means CalsonicKansei is not only financially supporting the home - it is providing the manpower behind the construction of that home as well.

"We see churches do full sponsorships, but we don't normally see businesses do this," Birtcil said. "We are hoping this will generate more full sponsorships from businesses in the future."

Typically, Bedford Builds Habitat for Humanity builds two to three houses each year. So far, two houses are on the verge of being built. It was not immediately clear whether a third would be build this year.

"With help like this, we could build three," Earl Pewitt, a Shelbyville-based Habitat board member, said.

CalsonicKansei employees from four of its branches formed a committee months ago to organize fundraisers to raise money for a future Habitat house. They have raised more than $30,000 through employee payroll contributions and other fundraisers.

"We wanted to do something to help people," said Demetria Holmes, of CalsonicKansei.

"This is giving someone a home," added Julie Nichols, also of CalsonicKansei, regarding the company's decision to do a full sponsorship.

Each Saturday, beginning in April and ending when the 1,100 square foot house is complete - which will likely be in July - CalsonicKansei employees will arrive at the McBride Street home to assist in the home's construction. Terri Herigel, recipient of the home, will be working alongside the employees.

"You're going to love Terri," Birtcil told the employees as they prepared to build the house. "She is a hard worker... There's nothing about her you won't like."

Making a connection between the volunteers who help build the house to the home's recipient is what helps make Habitat successful, Birtcil said. It also gives volunteers satisfaction from their hard work.

In July, when the house is complete, a dedication party will be held to celebrate the volunteers' work, and Herigel, a deserving single mother of two, being able to move into her new home, she continued.

A second Habitat home will also be built. Construction for that home will likely begin early this summer.

It will be a "community build," said Birtcil, meaning several different smaller groups (businesses, churches, and other volunteers) will take part in the construction.

Typically, most Habitat homes built in Bedford County are "community builds," but Birtcil would like to see more businesses jump on board, the way CalsonicKansei did.

"Rutherford County has 8 to 10 homes built through full (business) sponsorships a year," she said, acknowledging Bedford County is smaller, however there is potential in Bedford County for more homes to be built this way.