Habitat for Humanity expands, changes name

Habitat for HumanityHabitat for Humanity of Boone and Greene Counties has expanded to serve Guthrie County and will change its name accordingly. Effective immediately, the local Christian housing ministry will be known as Heart of Iowa Habitat for Humanity.

The affiliate has completed all requirements with Habitat for Humanity International to begin offering home construction and repair services to qualified low-income families in Guthrie County. The work of enlisting volunteers and finding families to serve has begun, with hopes to repair houses across Guthrie County in 2015 under the locally-developed and nationally-recognized Helping Hands program.

For those already involved with the group in Boone and Greene Counties, there will also be an enhancement to the governance structure. While there will remain a central affiliate board of directors, there will also now be a board of directors in each county whose responsibility will be to coordinate and direct their respective counties. Family selection, volunteer coordination, construction management and fund development will continue to be handled by committees.

“Adding Guthrie County to our Boone-Greene County Habitat team creates new opportunities for our organization, our volunteers, and especially for the deserving families we serve,” said 2015 Heart of Iowa Habitat for Humanity board president Harry Ahrenholtz of Jefferson. “Our organizational restructure will rely heavily on newly formed individual county boards.  Our service area is growing but our focus will be on local need and action as determined by these new county boards.”

Jeff Lamoureux of Jefferson was introduced as the first-ever associate director of the organization last month and has been assigned primary responsibilities for introducing and directing the Habitat for Humanity program in Guthrie County. He will also support volunteers in Greene County as they continue to build upon the many successes experienced over the past five years since Greene County was formally joined with Habitat for Humanity of Boone County.

Remaining as executive director will be Erich Kretzinger, a Boone County resident and Jefferson native. In addition to assisting with expansion of services into Guthrie County, his responsibilities will include support of Boone County volunteer efforts and overall affiliate guidance and administration.

“While I’d prefer to work myself out of a job and see all of our local families living in safe, decent and affordable housing, reality shows the housing need is greater than ever and our work is far from done,” said Kretzinger. “We’re stretching to serve even more families by expanding into Guthrie County and I look forward to our new volunteers making an immediate and lasting impact.”

Kretzinger explained that until recently Guthrie and Dallas Counties were affiliated under Habitat, much as Greene and Boone Counties. Nine houses were built in Perry, but no projects were done in Guthrie County. As the long-time senior leader, a volunteer, stepped aside, the newly-seated board of directors looked for new direction. They sought out the Greene-Boone County affiliate because of the similarities of those two rural counties to Guthrie County. The Dallas-Guthrie affiliate passed on its assets to Greene-Boone and disbanded.

While the central administrative office will remain in Boone, a full-time office will also be located in Jefferson, where volunteers are currently working to renovate a home in partnership with the Justin and Megan Saffell family. Boone County volunteers will begin construction in the spring on a new home in Boone in partnership with the Janelle Williams family.

“Some good work has been done in the past few years thorough our home building and Helping Hands projects in the two- county area thanks to our volunteers and supporters.  And that is where we intend to show the greatest growth in the future,” Ahrenholtz said.

Lamoreux is excited about Habitat’s growth. “While I’m still fairly new with Habitat, learning the many things that come together to make it all happen, I already have a lot of enthusiasm for what we’ll be doing in Guthrie County,” he said. “I’ve already learned that what Habitat does isn’t only critical for the families assisted, but it also provides an important opportunity for local Christians to live out their faith in service to others. We’re going to have a great first year together.”

Along with Ahrenholtz, 2015 Heart of Iowa Habitat for Humanity board officers are Angie Jewett of rural Grand Junction as vice president, Carla Werre of Madrid as secretary and Randy Purdy of Boone as treasurer.

Habitat for Humanity is a nonprofit Christian ministry dedicated to eliminating substandard and poverty housing. All persons are welcome as partner families and volunteers regardless of religious beliefs or affiliations.

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