Habitat for Humanity plans May building blitz
By By MICHELE GERLACH – Publisher
Tom Gerdy plans to bring a crew of 36 volunteers to Brewton in May. And if 100 to 150 local residents will lend their helping hands to the visitors' efforts, the Greater Brewton Area Habitat for Humanity will build two houses in one week.
Gerdy, a Lynchburg, Va., contractor and Habitat volunteer, has traveled across the United States with volunteers who tackle seemingly-impossible feats to inspire local volunteers that the impossible can be done. He spoke to 55 volunteers and board members at a Habitat luncheon at First United Methodist Church Friday.
Working with Habitat volunteers, he's built a house in less than 24 hours, built two houses in two days, and worked on a Hollywood project in which celebrities worked with Habitat to build 20 houses in a week. At the end of 2004, he worked with a group of mentally and physically challenged people to build a Habitat house.
Gerdy described his experiences with Habitat as “magical.” Each of his four children have worked with him on Habitat projects, he said, even before they were legally allowed.
The seniors were traveling to Disney World, and Gerdy's son told him, “I've already put a deposit down, but I think I could get it back.”
Gerdy said he thought, “My kid gets it. My kid understands it.”
Another time, he said, he was working with the local Habitat group in Lynchburg, and they planned to build a house between sun up and sundown. When his daughter expressed an interest in going with him, he explained that they would go to the site at 5 a.m. and they wouldn't leave until the work was done.
At about 9:30 on the day of the build, he said his daughter approached him, but her arm around him and said, “Dad, this is the coolest thing I've ever done.”
Gerdy, who calls himself a “retired Catholic” who attends the United Methodist Church, said he knew Habitat was doing the Lord's work when, on a Sunday, his group was partnered with a small Jewish community to build home for a black Baptist family.
The volunteers have fun, he said, adding that one of the two houses built here in May will be a part of the house in a box program publicized by the Today program shortly after Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast last year.
The volunteers who plan to travel with him range in age from their late teens to mid 80s, he said.
Habitat board president Bobi Rush said the organization's family selection committee hopes to identify the two families for whom the homes will be built within the next week. The houses will be built on Conoley Avenue.
For information, or to volunteer, contact Habitat's executive director, the Rev. Alecia Glaize, at 867-0095, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.