Brad Byrd InDEPTH: Groundbreaking for an American dream

Local News

(WEHT) — After Habitat for Humanity of Evansville broke ground on a subdivision Monday, Beth Folz, president of Habitat for Indiana and executive director of Habitat for Humanity Evansville, joined Brad Byrd for InDEPTH.


Brad Byrd: This is InDEPTH: The pandemic has reminded us what we may have taken for granted before this all started. I remember covering a Habitat for Humanity build in Evansville a few years ago, Talking face to face with future homeowners and those volunteers. So where are we today? Groundbreaking was held for St. Theresa Place…a vision that has been long talked about and is now reality.

Joining me tonight is Beth Folz, president of Habitat for Indiana and executive director of Habitat for Humanity Evansville. Beth, good to see you tonight. Hope you’re doing well. And considering we’re in the middle of a pandemic, this was a major development today for Habitat; it will build this latest dream on a historic footprint. Tell me about that.

Beth Folz: Yes, that’s exactly right. Well, the St. Theresa Catholic Church and parish and school. You know, was really a bedrock of that neighborhood and provided a great foundation for the families that went to church there. And we’re just carrying on that tradition of caring for families and building strong foundation for our Habitat families whose homes will soon be located there.

BB: The challenges of this year, though, Beth have been remarkable. We see the shovels being turned here. How do you build these homes when you’re in the middle of a pandemic?

BF: I am sure blessed to have a very innovative and flexible team that surrounds me here at Habitat, and they have just, you know, changed our processes a little bit to go with the flow that we’ve had all to endure during this covid pandemic. Our homeowner classes, we are now doing those by Zoom in many instances, our home dedications instead of having dedications in the house, we’ve done parades, car parades, where we’ve celebrated that way. Our volunteers that are working out on site, our core crew, we brought our core crew back in mid-June and they are working in full gear. You know, they were their mask, they social distance, we’ve had to get some equipment out there to help with wall raisings because, you know, you need a lot of people to do that. When you can’t have a lot of people out on site, you just have to be innovative. And so there’s some equipment out there that has helped us raise walls, and I just can’t say enough about the dedication of our volunteers who have just continued to come out and help build so that families have decent homes in which to shelter in place if we ever have to go back to that.

BB: Getting the materials for this, especially when everyone seems to be in a major crunch right now, Beth, how has that gone?

BF: You know, we have really been blessed we’ve not had the difficulty that some builders have had and it definitely has slowed our building process and the way that we’ve had to build, but we’ve been able to continue to build and continue to put people in their homes even during this and I think it just goes to show you where there’s a will, there’s a way and somehow we’ve been able to continue to make it work for many of our families.

BB: You tell me more than 520 homes right now have been built since this all began and we’re talking about generations here, we’ve often talked about the fact that some kids who are living in habitat homes about 20 to 25 years ago, what goes around comes around?

BF: This happens to also be the 20th anniversary of the 2000 Home Blitz, where we built 26 homes in one week. And going back and having made some connections with those families to hear that their families have gone out, graduated college and now have families of their own. This really, home ownership really does have impact for generations.

BB: Beth Folz, continued success on this even in the toughest of times. It will be great to see these homes go up right there in the heart of town with so many nearby neighborhood amenities, which is pretty cool.

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