McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

Local News

April 29, 2013

First McAlester Habitat for Humanity home celebrated at groundbreaking

McALESTER — It’s the culmination of a longtime dream and a couple of years of hard work by a number of determined individuals who banded together because they had a vision.

On Friday, they took a major step forward when several of them hoisted shovels and drove them into the dirt as part of a groundbreaking ceremony to mark the site where the first Habitat for Humanity home will be built in McAlester.

Plans call for it to be constructed near  the corner of B Street and Cherokee Avenue, as a residence for Glenn Morris and his two young daughter, Alaina and Michaela Morris.

“It’s a continuation of almost two years of behind-the-scenes work,” said Vic Wheeler, president of the local Habitat for Humanity Board.

“A lot of effort and a lot of prayers” have gone into bringing the Habitat for Humanity Program to McAlester, he said.

“To get to the ground-breaking is a great feeling.”

Wheeler feels the entire neighborhood and the city of McAlester will benefit from the Habitat for Humanity project.

“We feel really fortunate,” Wheeler said.

“It’s going to help revitalize this area of town,” he said. “We are very committed to creating a sense of community.”

Requirements to be on the receiving end of a Habitat for Humanity home are stringent.

“They are based on need, ability repay and willingness to participate,” Wheeler said.

McAlester’s Habitat for Humanity program received a huge boost through the synchronicity of several events.

One came when the Charles Komar and Sons family donated the land for the project — not only the lot where the first home will be built, but other lots in the area as well.

Two large donations were also extremely helpful, Wheeler said — one for $60,000 from the Puterbaugh Foundation and another of $50,000 from the Life Church.

He credited Joey Clark, of Shared Blessings, who Wheeler called “The driving force behind all of it.”

Clark recalled the two years of work that went  into the local chapter becoming accepted into the Habitat for Humanity program.

“It’s great to have something tangible,” he said,   referring to  the Friday groundbreaking and plans  on track for the new home construction.

During a brief ceremony,  Clark read  the Biblical passages about building a home on a strong foundation.

Other supporters of the project were also glad to see  Friday’s milestone.

“When we began this process, we never knew if it was going to happen,” said Scott Walker, executive director of Shared Blessings in McAlester.

“Joey and Vic and the board have done a tremendous job of getting us here,” Walker said.

“The future is bright.”

Tom Bledsoe, general manager of the Komar facilities in McAlester, and Mary Beth Chown, who is the controller, were on hand for the groundbreaking,

“They’re very community minded,” Bledsoe said of the Komar family.

Wheeler said the contributions of property and money has allowed Habitat for Humanity in McAlester to gain momentum.

“It’s allowed us to broaden our horizons. Let’s do more,” he said.

McAlester City Manager Pete Stasiak attended the groundbreaking ceremony.

“I think this is part of a great infill project for the community,” Stasiak said. “It’s needed.”

Stasiak considered the Habitat for Humanity project a turning point for the community.

“It doesn’t get any better than this,” he said.

Among those attending the event were Habitat for Humanity Board member Amy Cable.

“I think it’s really exciting for the community,” she said.

Board members Janet Derichsweiler also had some comments.

“It’s a dream we’ve been working on,” she said. Lots and lots of hours were put in trying to achieve this day, she added.

Denise Lewis is another board member. She noted the huge amount of paperwork that went into getting accepted in the Habitat for Humanity program to achieve the result they were celebrating.

“It’s going to be such a blessing to this neighborhood and the community as a whole,” she said.

Ward 6 Councilor and Vice Mayor Sam Mason said a lot of recognition should go to the Komar family for donation of the property.

“They are a really neat family,” he said. “They try to give a lot back.”

Former Mayor Don Lewis also attended the groundbreaking.

“A number of people have been wanting this to happen.” Lewis said. “I think the family and the community will be blessed.”

The Habitat for Humanity Board officers consist of Wheeler, president;  Vice President Damon Mascoto; Secretary Denise Lewis and Treasurer, Cable.

Board members are Derichsweiler, Bob Wallace, Chris Beatty, Jeff Mann, Colby Brenner, Danny Hardman, Linda Sossoman and Jane Glenn.

Now that the ground has been broken for a new home for the Morris family, Wheeler is looking forward to the completed project and when the family can take possession of the house.

“I’m imagining what it’s going to be like when they move in,” he said.

Contact James Beaty at jbeatu@mcalesternews.com.

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