There are some advantages to being retired. For one thing, if you no longer have a regular job, you can volunteer to work like a dog every day of the week.

There are some advantages to being retired. For one thing, if you no longer have a regular job, you can volunteer to work like a dog every day of the week.

That’s the case with an informal group who have been sawing, hammering and otherwise working to provide decent, affordable housing to those who need it through their service to Habitat for Humanity of Crawford County.

When they’re not busy building, they gather Tuesday mornings at the south McDonalds for coffee.

Two members of the informal group, Jack Divine and Gene Baldwin, have been with the local Habitat chapter since its earliest beginnings.

Baldwin said that the meeting had been organized by Julie Ferguson, who started a movement to bring Habitat for Humanity to Crawford County shortly after moving to Pittsburg in 2001.

“It took us a year to become an affiliate of Habitat for Humanity,” Divine said. “Then we started the first house in 2004.”

Located on West Seventh Street, the home was built with partner family Randy and Rebecca Helms and their children.

“We leaned heavily on Jack on that first house,” Baldwin said. “That first house was very special.”

Sadly, Ferguson became ill and was unable to attend dedication ceremonies at the home in September 2004.

“She was able to see the completed house, which was her dream,” Baldwin said. “Harley Helms, Randy and Rebecca’s son, gave her a tour of the home. It was very moving.”

Ferguson died about two months later, but her dream continued.

“In our first three years we built a house a year,” Divine said.

Habitat’s 11th house in Crawford County was dedicated on Aug. 14, and ground breaking on No. 12 is scheduled Oct. 9. It will be located on East 25th Street in Pittsburg, and will be the 10th Habitat home in the community. There is also one house in Girard and one in Arma.

“We hope to do more houses in other parts of the county as well,” said Gerald Luttrell, who is now the leader of the crew. “We’d like to do one in Frontenac.”

Divine and Bob Roberts have worked on all 11 houses, and don’t plan on stopping. Luttrell has worked on 10.

“We’ve had so many good people who have helped us out,” Baldwin said. “There was an 84-year-old man who drove here from Cherryvale to work. Ron Albright would lead us in devotions at the start of each work session. Scott Crain has done the block work for foundations, Don Vinardi has done all the heating work labor-free on all 11 houses. All-Quip has let us use everything from a drill to a back hoe and has not taken a penny.”

“Touchton Electric does the wiring, which helps keep the cost of houses way down,” Luttrell said. “We’ve also had tremendous support from the city staff with sharing the cost of tearing down old structures that might be on a house site.”

Also helping is all that volunteer labor.

“Many days we work eight hours a day, six days a week,” Bob Roberts said. “You can’t build a house on Saturdays.”

One volunteer, Dale Hart, has managed to work on six or seven houses, on weekends and in the evenings after work.

“Dale still has to work for a living,” Luttrell said. “If he were independently wealthy, that would be great.”

Divine said that the weekend volunteers are very important, needed and appreciated, but noted that new blood would be welcome.

“We need people with skills who can work during the week, and get things ready for the volunteers to come in on Saturday,” Baldwin said.

“Actually, they don’t need skills for a lot of what we do, like raking the yard,” Divine said.

Partner families are required to work on their homes as well, building up “sweat equity,” and help with other Habitat houses as well. On the first house, Mrs. Helms was expecting a baby, but still found work that she was able to do on her new home.

Building homes for families “is a really rewarding experience,” Roberts said.

Christine Schindler is chapter president. Anyone wishing additional information about Habitat for Humanity of Crawford County may call 232-3588 or