Name: Larry Buettner
Founded in 1976, Habitat for Humanity is a worldwide non-profit housing organization seeking to eliminate substandard housing by building or refurbishing decent, affordable homes for families who cannot afford to purchase them through conventional means.
As an arm of Habitat for Humanity of Northern Fox Valley, Spring of Life is a partnership of 8 churches in the northwest suburbs. Holy Family has been a longtime member of this partnership and, with the other churches, provides all the volunteer construction, fundraising and project leadership needed to build homes and contribute financially.
You don’t need to be an experienced craftsperson to help. The basic ability to swing a hammer, carry material or cut a piece of wood are the basic skills you can contribute. You will be supervised by experienced trades people. There is always something to be done to match your skills. Volunteers to provide lunch for the workers is also an opportunity to contribute. We usually work on Wednesdays and Saturdays from 8:30 am to about 3:00 pm.
Hundreds of Holy Family members have volunteered as carpenters, painters, landscapers, drywallers and lunch caterers. We are so proud of the many hours our dedicated members have given and which have allowed these families to move from being in a constant state of housing insecurity to one of having the stability of home ownership. Focusing on Habitat’s vision of A world where everyone has a decent place to live, we have created affordable housing for 20 qualified families over the past 25 years.
Being a homeowner changes more than an address. It changes lives. It takes away the fear of rising rent, having to move away from a familiar neighborhood, putting your children in new schools and having to make new friends. So, while we’re proud of our homebuilding work, we are most proud of the effect our work has had on the families we’ve served.
Home Ownership Leads To
- Graduation rates.
- Children’s good health.
- Net family wealth.
- Children’s behavioral problems.
- Reliance on government assistance.
Habitat’s mission statement of Seeking to put God’s love into action, Habitat for Humanity brings people together to build homes, communities and hope is very much in keeping with ours which is To empower all to experience New Life in Christ through sacramental living, transformative worship, lifelong spiritual growth and community in service to others. The work we do with Habitat is truly sacramental living in service of others and fits well with all the work we do in the area of social justice.
The homes we build are purchased by homeowners who don’t qualify for a conventional mortgage, but meet Habitat’s strict requirements for an interest-free $500 down mortgage. In addition to financial requirements, adult homeowners must put in 250 hours of sweat equity on their homes. Working alongside the construction crew gives these first-time homeowners an opportunity not only to put some “skin in the game,” but also to learn how to maintain their homes. (To read more about the process, see http://www.habitatnfv.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/English-FAQ.pdf.)
In addition to the construction volunteers, Holy Family has four members on the Spring of Life Leadership team. The group manages the project builds, relationship with the Habitat Homeowner, coordinates with Habitat’s paid staff and much more. Larry Buettner has been on the leadership team since the beginning, served once as a project manager and was also the chair of the leadership team for a decade. Myra Buettner played a key role in creating a fundraising team when the group was struggling to raise the $35,000 our partnership contributes to each home. Without the expertise of John Wise, who serves as the project manager/general contractor, Spring of Life would not have been able to build as many homes and at such a high quality as it has. Husband and wife team Mike Rekruciak and Monica Keane volunteer in a variety of roles as well.
A renovation on Plum Avenue in Elgin was completed and we couldn’t wait to finish so our partner homeowner Marisol and her young son could move in. Marisol’s family is from Mexico and moved here to when she was 10. Her parents worked hard to eventually afford their own home and taught Marisol the same work ethic. She has worked in several industries and continually moved up the ranks. From day care and other service jobs, she moved into the restaurant business and is now the manager of a chic restaurant in the northwest suburbs.
Like many of our homeowners, Marisol went from almost being homeless to being a prospective homeowner. She did this by dedicating herself to do the work needed to build a better future for herself and her son. She went through an intense and rigorous program with Fellowship Housing (https://www.fhcmoms.org) which helps single moms develop the skills they need to live independently. It would have been easy to wallow in heartbreak and fear when she faced being homeless, but Marisol chose to be more resourceful, more disciplined, and more resilient. Through Fellowship Housing, she learned of Habitat for Humanity and was approved for home ownership. It is our good fortune to have been able to work on Marisol’s home. Her strong work ethic, optimism and persistence lights up the room (or house) every time we see her.
Working as a manager in the restaurant business, she has flexible hours which often allowed her to be a regular at the job site. Our Spring of Life construction crew had her doing everything from cutting the grass to putting up siding, drywall, and flooring. She is a woman of many talents and an incredibly industrious worker. Her story reminds all of us of the grit and determination that all our homeowners faced to get to this point.
We received the following thank you email from Marisol. It belongs to all the members of Holy Family as much as it does to those of us who know her personally.
I am so grateful to have the chance to work by your side. You are all so caring and skilled and I can’t thank you enough for showing up every week. It’s hard for me to comprehend such level of selflessness and I can only hope to one day be able to give back with as much care and devotion as you all do.
I don’t know how I got to be so lucky and blessed all of a sudden, but I needed to let you know that nothing you do goes unnoticed. Here a just a few examples.
- Thank you for matching the ugly pipes perfectly to the siding outside the house.
- Thank you for the brick mat outside the shed and the cute little window.
- Thank you for getting the trees and plants and making the outside of the house just as beautiful as the inside
- Thank you for the American flag in front of the house.
- Thank you for the gardening and plastic gloves and endless supplies and tools you paid for out of your own pockets.
- Thank you for all the times you redid something to make it perfect.
- Thank you for the extra nails for better reinforcement.
- Thank you for taking the crappy jobs so I wouldn’t have to.
- Thank you for the endless hours you have spent at Home Depot shopping for the perfect materials and appliances.
- Thank you for the record keeping and picture taking and planning you do off site.
- Thank you for your patience with me and taking the time to teach me the way to do things.
- Thank you for the donuts and most of all…
- Thank you for the Farm House sink and round mirror in the bathroom I always dreamed of.
Thank you mostly for your time!
Time is the one thing we will never get back and you choosing to spend it building this home for Leo and me is something I could never repay. Please know that we will forever be grateful that you are in our lives.
A Brush with Kindness Program offers exterior home maintenance assistance for low-income families, elderly, and individuals with disabilities who are struggling to do the maintenance themselves. And for seniors, those with a disability, or others who struggle to maintain the integrity of their home, the Critical Home Repair program offers home repairs and improvements necessary for restoring and maintaining safe living conditions. Our Spring of Life Partnership is not involved with these programs, but we encourage anyone needing this type of assistance to contact Habitat for Humanity of Northern Fox Valley’s Executive Director Barb Beckman at 847-836-1432 or firstname.lastname@example.org.