A strong foundation: Local youth group volunteers for Habitat for Humanity

EASTLAKE — A happy home relies on the strength of its foundation. The same can be said for a fulfilling life.

The fifth through seventh grade students who make up Faith Covenant Church’s youth group are learning lessons in both life and home building as they volunteer their efforts toward Manistee County Habitat for Humanity’s latest home build. Recently, the group made and delivered lunch to the dedicated volunteers who have worked hard through the winter to make the future three-bedroom, two-bathroom ranch style house in Eastlake become a reality for a family in need.

“Part of being a whole person is learning that life is not all about you,” said Rev. Paula Frost, Pastor of Children & Family Ministry at Faith Covenant. “So, this is the first of many service projects these kids will be a part of, to exercise their service muscles.”

Frost said her group’s involvement in the Habitat home was sparked through casual conversation with Vanessa Buhs, executive director of Manistee County Habitat for Humanity, when the two first met at a wedding recently.

“She told me she was involved in Habitat, and I told her I was a pastor who had a youth group, and I would love for my kids to get involved,” Frost recalled. “She said, ‘Oh my gosh, well, we have plenty of things that they can do!’”

The first up was a soup lunch and all the fixings, prepared and delivered by the group on a recent Saturday afternoon. It was enjoyed by the team of volunteer workers while youth group members took a tour of the soon-to-be home.

“One of the things we’re trying to do is get youth involved in habitat,” Buhs said. “Really, it’s a good way to teach them about volunteering. … We’re excited to see the youth involved in our mission to make affordable housing available, and understand the importance of safety on a construction site.

“We hope we’re creating a new generation of Habitat volunteers.”

A trio of Manistee County Habitat for Humanity board members recently completed a Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration training, further assuring safety at the build site. The regional training was held at Manistee’s United Methodist Church, the venue being provided Pastor John Scott.

Habitat for Humanity board president Randy Zakrajsek is passing on knowledge from the training to volunteers, including the youth group from Faith Covenant who plan to return to site later this month to assist with more hands-on work.

“I think it’s great that they are out here helping others,” Zakrajsek, “and learning the importance about helping a family in need.”

“It’s not just serving the person in front of us,” Frost said, “by doing this, we’re actually serving God. The particular scripture verse that we’ve used is from the Book of Hebrews and it says that God is not unjust, He will not forget the love that you have shown Him as you have helped his people and continue to help them.”

The Faith Covenant youth group convenes every Wednesday after school during the school year and more frequently during the summer. Frost said the group always has room to grow. For more information, contact Frost at revpafrost@gmail.com or call the church at (231) 723-7173. Information on Faith Covenant can also be found on its website, www.faithcovmanistee.org.

Manistee County Habitat for Humanity is also welcoming of new volunteers and further support.

Zakrajsek said volunteers typically meet to work on the house — which was started in October — every Saturday morning, with more frequent visits expected to occur as the weather warms up. A tentative completion date is targeted for June/July of this year.

“Every Saturday through completion, we’ll begin at 9 a.m.,” he said. “We have lots of tools and different things to do, so any skill level can show up and help.

“If people would like to volunteer they can contact us, and we’ll come up with a definite plan for them,” he added. “We have a core group of about a dozen volunteers who are here every weekend, basically. And we have four or five guys, who are retired, who come in the morning on weekdays.

“There’s always something to be done, even if it’s sweeping the floor, cleaning up or helping organize things.”

To become involved or for more information on Manistee County’s Habitat, email habitat.manistee.county@gmail.com, call (231) 723-7458 or visit habitatmanistee.org.

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Posted by Dylan Savela

Dylan is the county reporter for the News Advocate, he also is in charge of the Small Town Life, religion and senior pages. He can be reached at (231) 398-3111 or dsavela@pioneergroup.com.

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