A long commute

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 7, 2004

Suffolk News-Herald

It’s one thing to work construction in 100-degree heat. Doing it for free while on vacation, however, is another matter entirely.

For the members of the United Church of Christ of Harleysville, Penn., they wouldn’t have things any other way.


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&uot;We get a lot of satisfaction from doing this,&uot; said Jan Marcheski, a part of the group that’s been making the journey to Suffolk for the past four years to aid Suffolk Habitat for Humanity, which provides safe, decent, and affordable shelter to those who are unable to afford it.

Since 1978, nearly 20 Suffolk families have purchased new homes from the organization. Because the labor and materials are largely donated, Habitat for Humanity is able to lessen the financial burden for low-to-moderate income residents, who otherwise would not qualify to buy a house.

&uot;This is a mission for us,&uot; said Marcheski, taking a breather from construction of the association’s latest project, a two-story, 1,200-square foot house on Smith Street. &uot;We’re doing God’s work in the world. It feels like a real accomplishment, and it proves that God has a sense of humor!&uot;

Over next to the street, Linda Katz shoveled several wheelbarrows of mud into the base of the house’s foundation. &uot;You learn something about construction from doing this,&uot; she said. &uot;We get to help people, but they’re giving us even more. We’ve learned about things like drywall and taping things that we can use in our own church and our own homes.

&uot;There’s a lot of southern hospitality,&uot; Katz added. &uot;Everyone’s been really gracious, and they bring us lunch, and invite us to picnics.&uot; Tonight, the group will head to Liberty Springs Christian Church for a get-together, and First Baptist Church is providing housing.

Ron Hilmer is making the trip for the first time. He doesn’t think it will be the last. &uot;This is really tremendous,&uot; he said. &uot;I like doing manual work, and something like this gives you a real opportunity to help someone else. It makes you feel great.&uot;