Churches work together on downtown Habitat house

mjones@herald-leader.comJuly 26, 2013 

Alimata Kumbakisaka decided to make Lexington her home in 2010, and construction has begun to make it official.

Members from seven downtown churches have collaborated to sponsor a home for Kumbakisaka and her family through Lexington's Habitat for Humanity. The build began July 10.

This is the first time seven downtown churches have sponsored a Habitat build of a house downtown, explained Dana Stefaniak, Lexington Habitat for Humanity resource development director.

"Since the churches worship downtown it seemed like a neat opportunity to do a service project there, too," she said, adding that all the churches have committed financial aid and labor for the building of the house. The Kumbakisaka home is on Second Street.

The churches include: Christ Church Cathedral, Embrace Church, First Presbyterian Church, Good Shepherd Episcopal Church, Nia Community of Faith, Second Presbyterian Church and St. Andrew's Episcopal Church.

The project was started by Second Presbyterian Church, a long-time Habitat supporter. The church committed a sponsorship of $21,250 in February for half of the home. After Second committed, several other downtown churches joined in, including Embrace Church and Nia Community of Faith who are first time Habitat partners. With effort from all the churches, the home sponsorship was brought to $42,500.

The Kumbakisaka family's home is being constructed in a three-phase build. Volunteers put up the walls, frame and roof of the home and siding during the first phase. During phase two, contractors come in to handle the electric and plumbing. In the final phase, volunteers return to finish the home by painting and installing cabinets and doors.

"It's been great," said Rod Brotherton, a volunteer from First Presbyterian Church. "House building really isn't all that difficult. The professionals keep us in the right direction."

Bill Maloney, a volunteer from Second Presbyterian Church agreed and added, "This is going to create an opportunity for churches to collaborate on even more projects."

Dieudonne Bopata, Kumbakisaka's son, has been participating in the build as well. "We are very excited to get a new home," said Bopata, who wears a T-shirt on-site that reads "future homeowner" on the back.

"It's neat to provide a home for people who need it," said Mark Plummer, a volunteer from Good Shepherd Episcopal Church. He and his wife, Ann, helped with the build by providing lunches recently.

"It's amazing how fast they're putting the structure up," he added.

Project manager Pete Carew said working with the churches has been "incredible."

"Habitat is about community building," he said. "We had everything under roof in four days."

Brotherton, who helped put the siding on the home, believes faith is playing an important part in the home build.

"Faith is all about helping your neighbors," he said.

The home is expected to be completed in October of this year.

Lexington Habitat for Humanity has served more than 370 families since 1986 and builds about 17 houses a year. If you'd like to help with a build, contact Risa Richardson at (859) 252-2224 or at Risar@lexhabitat.org.

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