By Lindsay Steele
The Catholic Messenger
DAVENPORT —Habitat for Humanity’s Pope Francis house is now complete, thanks to the donations and volunteer labor of Catholics and non-Catholics alike.
“When you walk into any room in this house, know that you are supported by love,” Knight of Columbus Tim Carroll told homeowner Avita Hicks at the home’s dedication March 19. Carroll is a member of Our Lady of Lourdes-Bettendorf Knights of Columbus Council 15430.
More than a year ago, an anonymous donor offered a $60,000 donation toward a $100,000 house to be built in Pope Francis’ name through ecumenical volunteerism. Scott County Knights of Columbus councils, along with local Catholic school students, religious sisters, parishes and individuals helped with the effort. They did so by raising the remaining $40,000, bringing lunches to the job site or doing manual labor, said Dougal Nelson, development director for Habitat for Humanity Quad Cities.
Additionally, Wells Fargo, Harvest Bible Chapel and other non-Catholic entities worked fervently on the project. “This project really brought both Catholics and non-Catholic individuals together. I saw it every day,” Nelson said. “We achieved a goal of what the anonymous donor wanted – a celebratory opportunity for Catholic and non-Catholic volunteers to come together on a project for the common good.”
Hicks, a Baptist, pitched in, too, completing 400 hours of work on the home. This is nearly double the amount that Habitat for Humanity requires of all new homeowners in the program. In addition, she volunteered in the Habitat for Humanity office and took classes on money management. She did this all while raising two daughters and working split shifts.
At the home dedication, Nelson mentioned that people often think that Habitat for Humanity is an organization that gives homes away for free.
“Yeah, right!” Hicks responded with a laugh.
Habitat for Humanity’s mission is to provide safe, affordable shelter to families who demonstrate a level of need and a willingness to volunteer with the program. Habitat grants affordable, no-interest loans to the homeowners at mortgage rates they can afford. The homes are built with efficiency in mind in an effort to keep energy costs low.
Bishop Martin Amos offered a blessing at the dedication, which took place inside the new 1,000-square-foot home, filled from wall-to-wall with well-wishers. He embraced Hicks, who broke into tears several times during the dedication ceremony.
“I’m just so thankful to God,” she told the crowd.