Habitat for Humanity meeting planned Feb. 10

Habitat for Humanity meeting planned Feb. 10
April Jungwirth is a devoted student at The University of South Dakota, pursuing a biology degree.

And even though Vermillion isn't her hometown – she hails from Frankfort – she's passionate about helping the community.

Jungwirth, who was elected president of the USD Habitat for Humanity chapter in the spring of 2007, hopes the organization can help make a difference in the Vermillion community.


She knows she can't turn this goal into reality all by herself. She is going to need help from volunteers.

Jungwirth is calling on all local citizens who interested in seeing a Habitat for Humanity project in Vermillion to attend a meeting scheduled for 2 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 10, at the United Church of Christ – Congregational.

"One of the goals of the meeting is to form the different committees that we'll need," she said.

Volunteers will be needed to serve in a site selection committee, a family selection committee to screen applicants, and a fundraising committee, Jungwirth said. Siouxland Habitat for Humanity of Sioux City, IA will lend its assistance locally if Vermillion is willing to take on the project of helping to build a home for a needy family.

Doug Peterson, a member of the USD faculty, has already joined the ranks of local Habitat for Humanity volunteer after mentioning to Jungwirth that he has always wanted to see an affiliate in Vermillion.

"She took the initiative to do a lot more work than anyone in the past ever has," he said.

The USD Habitat for Humanity chapter is composed of more than 40 students, all of who are already very active in the community.

"Some things we do include Meals on Wheels for the Senior Center, we do The Welcome Table, and on the weekends we drive to Sioux City and work with Siouxland Habitat for Humanity helping to build homes there." USD Habitat for Humanity chapter members will spend their spring break working to help finish several homes in Los Lunes, NM.

As Jungwirth became more and more involved in the USD chapter, and as she worked on helping to build homes in Sioux City and in Biloxi, MS last year, she said it finally dawned on her.

Why not build a home in Vermillion?

"When I was down in Biloxi (last year) we rebuilt a home for a woman who lost everything in Hurricane Katrina," she said. "It was a great experience, and I began thinking about how we travel that far to do this for other individuals. Why can't we do it in our own community? We want to do something right here in Vermillion."

To be considered a future resident of a Habitat for Humanity home, a local family would have to reside in the community, have a stable income level, live in substandard conditions, and fit the current year's income requirements.

The family would also be required to volunteer to work a certain number of hours on another Habitat house, invest at least 250 hours in their own home, and make mortgage payments which would be interest free even though the funds have been donated.

"Because Habitat acts as its own lender, and the actual cost of the home is less than the market value," Peterson said, "they are often able to get people into home ownership who wouldn't qualify for a mortgage on a regular home because they would never amass the down payment.

"With Habitat, your down payment is the sweat equity, the work you do in advance," he said. "And then you have lower initial mortgage payments, so they are able to qualify for homeownership where they ordinarily wouldn't."

Peterson said a host of volunteer effort – far beyond the physical labor of constructing a home – could help make a Habitat for Humanity residence a reality in Vermillion.

"Certainly getting the word out to the public, raising funds in everything from $1 to $1,000 increments, and volunteers who prepare meals for the workers at the building sites, and who work with the family, maybe by providing some credit counseling – there's lots of things that are not just hitting a nail with a hammer that we need people to do."

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