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Family prepares for move to Habitat house

Sunday, June 29, 2008

(Photo)
Putnam County Habitat for Humanity volunteers construct a home for the Vance Barker family, who have two children suffering from hydrocephalus, or water on the brain. The Barkers' son Blake is quadriplegic and on a ventilator, making a handicap-accessible home necessary. The Barkers will move into their new home in about six weeks.
KIM PUCKETT

Summer Intern

For Joyce Barker, the chance to live in a home built by Putnam County Habitat for Humanity means safety for her family and accessibility for her son.

Joyce's son Blake suffers from a condition he was diagnosed with at 5 months old called hydrocephalus, or water on the brain. Now 17 years old, Blake is quadriplegic and on a ventilator due to complications of hydrocephalus.

Before Habitat started construction on their new home, the Barker family was living in a house that was not handicap accessible and unsafe, according to PCHH President Marj Weaver.

"The Barker family proved need for a Habitat home because their previous residence was not a safe environment," Weaver said. "They also need a home that is accessible."

According to Joyce Barker, the facilities at the family's current residence make it difficult for Blake to bathe.

"The first thing Blake wants to do is finally take a shower," Barker said. "In our other house, he couldn't even get his chair into the bathroom."

The Barker's new home will have three bedrooms, one bathroom and a special shower room for Blake. According to Weaver, Habitat homes are not built for luxury, but for need.

"Our houses are simple and plain," Weaver said. "They most always have three bedrooms and one bath, but we made this exception for Blake to have a shower room."

Ashley, Joyce's daughter, also diagnosed with hydrocephalus, does not suffer from the same complications as Blake.

Ashley is now 11 years old and progressing beyond her doctors' expectations, according to her mother.

"The doctors told me that both of my kids would have learning disabilities," Barker said. "But Ashley is a straight A student."

With diligent work from volunteers, the home should be completed within six weeks, according to Weaver. All construction on Habitat homes is completed by volunteers, so the Barker family is asking for any help community members can offer.

"How fast we get this job done depends on the amount of volunteers and how hard they work," Weaver said. "We need people including painters and dry-wallers to complete this project for the family."

Though no one involved in Habitat is paid for their services, the house is not completely free to the family. According to Weaver, Habitat is not a giveaway program.

"Habitat homes are a hand up, not a hand out," Weaver said. "Families must have a job or other income for at least one year to qualify for the zero-interest loan."

Families can pay off part of their new homes in what is called sweat equity. They volunteer to work on their own homes or other Habitat homes to help square away what they owe.

"A family should only pay one-fourth of their income toward a home," Weaver said. "Most people that are renting are paying at least half of their income."

Habitat for Humanity's goal is to make a clean, safe and affordable environment for families, according to Weaver.

"Children that move into Habitat homes do better in school," Weaver said. "A happier healthier environment grows families."

Barker said the Habitat for Humanity program will positively effect her children.

"This house will make everything so much easier," Barker said. "This means everything to our family."


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So where is the house and how would one go about volunteering?

-- Posted by VolunteerFF on Mon, Jun 30, 2008, at 9:25 AM

you can call the "putnam county habitat for humanity" office in greencastle....the phone number is in the phone book under that name.

-- Posted by one_singlerose on Mon, Jun 30, 2008, at 10:19 AM

WHAT A NICE STORY. I'M HAPPY FOR THE FAMILY. GOOD JOB, HABITAT FOR HUMANITY!

-- Posted by Michele1953 on Tue, Jul 1, 2008, at 6:20 PM


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