Habitat for Humanity gets off the ground in Marble Hill

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Thomas and Laura Mortellaro of O'Fallon, Mo., at one time planned to retire to Marble Hill. They lived there in the 1970s when he worked for Southwestern Bell Telephone Co., before they moved to the St. Louis area.

They're retired now, but because of some health problems they can't build the retirement home they planned to have on High Street.

"After discussion and prayer we decided to donate the lot to Habitat for Humanity," said Laura Mortellaro. "A deserving family can have a lovely home on it."

Thomas Mortellaro, who is a retired software engineer for Lucent Technologies, has volunteered with Habitat for Humanity, helping low-income families build an affordable home.

State Rep. Shelley Keeney, R-Marble Hill, is helping get the project off the ground in Marble Hill. Currently, Habitat for Humanity is in the planning stages.

"We're setting up committees," Keeney said. "We will need a volunteer coordinator and volunteers to work on the project. We're in the process of finding people willing and interested in serving on the committees."

Habitat for Humanity International is a not-for-profit ecumenical Christian housing ministry. There are more than 2,300 active affiliates in 89 countries including all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.

Since 1976, more than 150,000 houses have been built around the world, providing more than 500,000 people with safe, decent affordable shelter.

Using the Perryville Habitat committee as a model, the Marble Hill effort is looking to develop a steering committee, an executive subcommittee, development subcommittee, a committee to select the family for the home and a construction committee.

A search is also on for a qualifying family. Families are chosen according to their need, their ability to repay the no-profit, interest-free mortgage and their willingness to work in partnership with Habitat, according to information provided by the Cape Area Habitat for Humanity.

The down payment for a home is $250, and each homeowner family must invest 350 hours of "sweat equity" before they can move into their home.

Others in the community provide the means to make the project work: individuals, corporations, and churches lend a hand at the building site and make cash donations.

"I've always thought it sounded like a wonderful project," Keeney said.

Habitat for Humanity uses plans that are easy for volunteers to build. Homes are designed for families of all sizes. Soon, one might be going up on High Street.

"It's a real pretty lot; we just loved it," Laura Mortellaro said. "We love Habit for the great work they do."

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: