Kathy Spangler was at a crossroads almost two years ago. Her 40-year-old mobile home was constantly in need of maintenance and these repairs always uncovered other, more expensive problems.
This is the common lament of any homeowner in an aging home, but more so when you are a single mother with three children.
Spangler had lost her husband, Herbie, a year before, and it was up to her to find a way out of the repair cycle.
There were advantages to her home that made it even more difficult to make a living-situation decision. It was mere steps away from her mother’s house and family in Midland.
Two of Spangler’s children have special needs. Having family nearby has given her children a sense of stability and loving care. Casey still lives with Spangler. Holly has her own home near her work in Wilmington and Maddie has an apartment in town.
“Our house was beyond fixable; I needed to find an answer for our home. It was then that I decided I would apply for a Habitat for Humanity house. I hoped the group might consider building on the spot of the trailer’s foundation,” she said.
In her decision process, she visited the homes of three Clinton County Habitat for Humanity partner families to find out what building a home might entail. She asked questions and wasn’t afraid to share her concern.
“I am not a skilled carpenter,” she laughed. “I didn’t know anything about construction,” she admitted.
The group approved her application and agreed to build near her old home spot. She had 300 hours of volunteer work ahead of her, as required by the local organization for any new homeowner.
She worked at the Restore, helped at the group’s fundraising events, and began to wear a carpenter’s apron on Wednesday and Saturdays. There are additional volunteer hours required after a homeowner moves in so that they can mentor new homeowners and serve others.
Last fall, in preparation for her Habitat home, Spangler, along with the help of Russ Kidd, tore down and removed her old trailer.
“It was tough to watch, and Casey, my son, looked through the windows of the house and could see that the home he once knew was gone. I just knew that this would be better, but it was hard to watch him, knowing he did not understand what was really happening,” she said. This is the first time that Clinton County Habitat for Humanity has built a home on an owner’s property.
During the rainiest of March and April, Kathy, and her daughter Maddie worked a pump for days trying to dry out the foundation so that construction work could begin. In rain gear and boots, the Spanglers beat the water back and the work began. It wasn’t a great start, but the weather calmed down and things have gone well. Their home is within weeks of completion.
Last week, as Kathy and Casey drove into the driveway, he said, “Look, Mom, there’s our new house,” Spangler knew then that she had made the right decision for her family and that Casey understood he had a new home now.
“I can’t say enough about the people who worked so hard to help me build this home. They are wonderful people and they have embraced generosity,” she said. “They are willing to share their kindness and knowledge. I never felt like any job that I did, any skill that I learned, wasn’t as important or as necessary as anything else. They cared about me and wanted to be proud of this home, too.”
Habitat for Humanity is always searching for a new partner family to begin building a new home and life.
“I was raised that serving others was the right thing to do,” she said.
Spangler will be taking on the important task of ensuring that each construction crew has a satisfying lunch. Dorena Scott, a partner family member, has run lunches to builders on Wednesday and Saturdays for many years. She is handing the task to Spangler, who is excited to stay in touch with her new Habitat friends.
“I will be searching for groups or individuals who want to cook lunches or cover the cost of lunches,” said Spangler.
Anyone can build or volunteer for Habitat for Humanity. The group welcomes all skill levels.
Contact the Clinton County Habitat for Humanity office at 937-382-7605 to help Spangler, build a home for others or become a partner family.