Habitat for Humanity volunteers contribute time and skills

Author: Gene Stowe

Geary Locke Geary Locke

For more than 20 years, Geary Locke has worked for Notre Dame, first in Food Services, then in General Services, now in the Notre Dame Conference Center in McKenna Hall. Now, a few blocks south of campus, University colleagues and others are working with Locke, building a two-story Habitat for Humanity house where his family will move this summer.

“I’m happy I can own a home,” Locke said on his first visit to the job site, in April. “It’s nice to see where I can own something and see it come together.”

Locke first applied for a Habitat house about four years ago, starting a process that involves qualifying the family’s income and providing training in financial literacy, home management and construction.

“They explain classes and how to do the plumbing and the wiring and the drywall,” Locke said. “After that you go and help another partner family and then they come and help you. That’s how everything gets started.”

Tom Coxey, volunteer care director for Habitat for Humanity of St. Joseph County, said The Northeast Neighborhood Revitalization Organization (NNRO) sold the lot on St. Peter Street to Habitat for $1, and the agency worked with NNRO officials to ensure that the design blends with the neighborhood.

A group from Campus Services volunteers at a Habitat for Humanity work site for Geary Locke Campus Services volunteers

Homeowners in the Habitat program provide 300 hours of “sweat equity” on their own home and others, make a down payment, and assume a 30-year interest-free mortgage for the home.

Workers hope to complete the house in late June. Locke and his wife, Mary, will move in with their daughters Ashley, an Adams High School senior, and Tamara, a junior. An older son, Geary Jr., has already moved out of the family home.

Volunteer labor comes from individuals and groups, including many from Notre Dame. “The groups that have volunteered are University Relations, University Architects Office, Continuous Process Improvement, Finance, Notre Dame Conference Center staff and the Morris Inn,” said Jeri DeCola, property manager in Asset Management. “Several individuals around campus have volunteered also.”

On the morning of the second building day for Locke’s house, workers from Mount Carmel Missionary Baptist Church helped clad the exterior walls, and by afternoon, work was progressing on the garage.

“The thing I like about this program is it doesn’t matter what church you go to,” Locke said. “They get everybody together to come and help out. I can return the favor and help somebody else get their house started."