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Habitat For Humanity completes home in southern Ill. after pandemic setbacks

Published: Jul. 15, 2021 at 5:28 PM CDT
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HERRIN, Ill. (KFVS) - Habitat for Humanity in Williamson County is celebrating another completed home.

The local chapter held a ribbon cutting ceremony to mark the building of a new home in Herrin. Construction on the home began in August 2020.

But what was it like to build a home during the pandemic?

”During COVID-19, this project had to go on when we were allowed to do so by CDC and Illinois public health guidelines,” said Tammy Gwaltney, president of Habitat for Humanity in Williamson County, Illinois.

Habitat for Humanity Williamson County chapter members, student workers from John A. Logan’s construction management and HVAC programs, along with volunteers, put the finishing touches on the home.

“But we just took precautions. The students who came out and worked on the project were still able to get their on-the-job experience while social distancing, and they were used to it at that point because of the way classrooms had to be managed and that sort of thing,” said Gwaltney.

Scott Wernsman, associate dean of Career and Technical Education at JALC, knew how important it was to keep his students on the build.

“You can’t build a house online, so they had to come out and do the things face-to-face and they were doing the manual labor and getting the house completed,” Wernsman said.

The pandemic caused prices for building materials to skyrocket and interrupted supply chains.

“John A. Logan was no exception to that as well. I mean, at times, inventory was low and it was tough and we had delayed the process a little bit or the project being completed, but none the less they persevered and were able to get it completed,” he said.

Advanced planning allowed Habitat for Humanity to better face challenges in getting appliances and cabinets installed into the new home.

“One of the advantages sometimes to being, knowing that you’re going to be doing a build so far in advance is we had some of those products already on hand, we just had to wait for it to be safe to get them installed,” Gwaltney explained.

Habitat for Humanity’s Williamson County chapter president credited the students who showed up during a pandemic to finish the home.

“I can’t thank them enough, they don’t always get all the recognition that they deserve,” Gwaltney said.

Southside Lumber in Herrin also partners with Habitat for Humanity’s Williamson County chapter by offering discounted or donated building materials.

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