Best and worst of humanity’ come together

Published 12:00 am Monday, September 15, 2003

First Baptist Church members from left, D.D. Davidson, Bobby Middleton and Randy Oswalt cut and post boards onto a Warren County Habitat for Humanity home at 1313 Jefferson St. Saturday.(Melanie Duncan Thortis The Vicksburg Post)

[9/15/03]A home being built by volunteers has been a target for thieves and vandals, yet workers refuse to let that deter them from getting the job done.

“The best of humanity and the worst of humanity are coming to bear on one project,” said Richard Stuart, construction supervisor for the Warren County Habitat for Humanity. “We have people volunteering out of the goodness of their heart, and at the same time we have the worst of the community trying to tear the house down as we’re trying to build it.”

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Construction began on the house at 1313 Jefferson St. in March when college students on spring break helped erect the frame.

In mid-March or late April, Stuart said he and others stopped by the 1,350-square-foot house the largest to be built in Warren County to gather leftover building materials to take them to storage but the materials were gone.

“We foolishly left a bunch of lumber and plywood in the house,” said Stuart, who is on the board of directors for the local affiliate of Habitat for Humanity.

For the next three months, construction was stalled due to a lack of volunteers. Last month, members of First Baptist Church volunteered to help complete the project.

Things were going smoothly until late August when workers found the kitchen and bathroom windows had been stolen.

“We reported that to the police, and they said they’d patrol the area more frequently,” Stuart said.

With those two setbacks behind them, the workers continued. And by Thursday, some of the siding was already in place on the five-bedroom home when burglars tried to remove another window.

This one was much harder to yank,, however, because of the siding. The burglars left the window, now shattered, hanging from the home.

“It’s discouraging, it’s frustrating and it’s disappointing,” Stuart said. “But we’re not going to let them stop us. We’re going to keep going.”

Stuart said the location of the home could be partly to blame for the burglaries. It is isolated from view by brush and trees.

The house is one of two Habitat homes now under construction. Volunteers from Woodlawn Baptist Church are helping construct the other at 1038 Meadow St.

Work is nearly complete and homeowner Kathryn Huell hopes to be moved in for Thanksgiving dinner.

“It will be a lot of good stuff,” Huell said. “It’s going to be an old-fashioned traditional Thanksgiving.”

As did other Habitat home recipients, Huell helps with construction almost every Saturday at the home she plans to share with her three children and grandchild.

The two homes mark the 15th and 16th built in Vicksburg and Warren County by the organization headquartered in Georgia.

To prevent future burglaries at the Jefferson Street home, Stuart is considering adding more security lights. He also drives by the house several times a week.

Randy Oswalt, a member of First Baptist Church, is also helping with the construction.

“The burglaries didn’t slow us down,” he said. “We’re moving forward.”

And Stuart added, “Nor has it dampened our spirit.”