Backhoe Needed For Habitat Home

The determination of the human spirit often is enough to overcome extraordinary obstacles, but for some challenges – building a house, for example – you really just need a backhoe.

That’s the situation in which local volunteers find themselves as they seek to help a working mother with three children become a homeowner. A groundbreaking ceremony took place in South Wheeling in mid-November, but wintry weather and difficulty finding the heavy equipment necessary to get things going have put the project about three weeks behind schedule, according to Lisa Werner, volunteer coordinator for Habitat for Humanity-Wheeling Area.

At the top of the group’s wish list, Werner said, is a volunteer with a backhoe who can dig the foundation at the 97 33rd St. site. Once that hurdle is cleared and the foundation is poured, Werner expects things will move fairly quickly, as other volunteers already have committed to help with plumbing and electrical work.

Time is of the essence, as the future homeowner has been told she and her daughters – one of whom is handicapped and uses a wheelchair – must move out of the apartment they had been renting.

“They’re in great need of housing immediately, so we’re hoping to be under roof in 30 days,” said Werner.

Although a backhoe is the volunteers’ most pressing need right now, Werner is still seeking helpers who are willing to get their hands dirty as the project moves forward.

“Once this is done, I’ll be looking for framers, and once we’re under roof we’ll be looking for painters, or whatever else people want to do,” said Werner, noting the bulk of construction will take place on Saturdays to accommodate work schedules.

Werner added the group’s office volunteer recently retired, and she needs someone who can work about two hours per week performing tasks such as checking phone messages and sorting mail. She invites those interested in helping with any of these needs to call her during the day at 304-234-9221, or email her any time at

The South Wheeling project has been dubbed the Soroptimist House because the Soroptimist Club raised more than $10,000 toward the effort. Other major supporters include the Vineyard Church and Saints and Sinners Club as well as architect Adam Mull, who designed the building.

Habitat partner families must put a $500 down payment on a home, put hundreds of hours of their own labor into its construction as well as repay the organization over time for building costs.