Helping hands

Habitat for Humanity breaks ground on new home

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— For the past few days, a slender woman with brown hair and tinted glasses could be seen picking up rocks and digging up flowers on a small plot of land just below the Steamboat cemetery.

Nearby are the kind of homes where working couples will watch their children grow and eventually bring back their own children to visit.

They may not be million-dollar homes on the ski mountain, but it's the kind of home Beverly Marchman has longed for.

"I've been spending as much time out there as I could because I feel it's my property," laughed the mother of four who will own Routt County's first Habitat for Humanity home.

Three years after Routt County Habitat for Humanity was formed, volunteers finally got to shovel out dirt as they broke ground on its first home an 1,100-square-foot house with three bedrooms and one-and-three-fourths bathrooms.

Even as the shovels were being readied, Marchman was trying to save as many indigenous flowers and rocks as she could to use in the landscaping of her new home.

Her four children and husband were at school and couldn't be there for the ground breaking, but later in the day three of the children joined their mother at the homesite. The younger children were surprised at the progress of one day's work.

"Sweet," said 9-year-old Louis.

"Looks good," added older brother Ben.

"We came out here before and it was just plain," he said, looking down into the big hole that has become the outline of their home's foundation.

Even as the first weekend looms ahead, Habitat is still looking for volunteers.

"This coming weekend is the first weekend for volunteers to come, so we are in need of people who want to help put in the foundation," said Linda Haltom, Treasurer of Routt County Habitat for Humanity.

"We need 15 each day to work along side the skilled people."

As Habitat is a Christian-based organization, churches will offer a big portion of the labor pool as they sign up work crews, but people are encouraged to sign up and even show up on weekends if they get the urge to hammer.

Other professional contracting services have been donated including Tuesday's excavation work by Native Excavating. Lafarge will be standing by ready to pour concrete soon.

Haltom said other important contributions include architectural work and plans done by Steamboat Architectural, Ralston Associates and Dan Wilkinson.

During a day and age when almost everyone wants publicity, there were a few people who have refused to be part of the media coverage, including the construction manager and others who have donated sometimes more than a thousand hours, while still keeping their other jobs on the side.

On Tuesday morning, Habitat got a $10,000 check that the city of Steamboat Springs promised, but other organizations have stepped up to the plate.

Fortunately, Habitat was able to come up with $60,000 to buy the lot because of people and organizations like the Yampa Valley Community Foundation. The foundation cut a $10,000 check.

Finding "affordable" land was Habitat's biggest challenge and will continue to be so as they plan ahead for other homes.

The Marchman's home will be worth a quarter of a million dollars when done, but thanks to donations and volunteers they will be able to buy it at half that price and at no interest.

Like all Habitat projects, the house is expected to take four months to build and put the Marchman's in their home by the end of August.

Beverly Marchman is a seasonal worker with the Steamboat Ski and Resort and her husband Neil is a music teacher at Strawberry Park Elementary School.

For years the family has been involved in non-profit groups and Neil founded a state-wide prison ministry in their old home town in Loveland.

But this is the first time the family has benefited.

"We've been involved in Habitat before and other organizations so we're use to this," Beverly Marchman said.

"I think the difference is that we're building our own house this time," she said.

As the backhoe operator was wrapping up his day, the Marchman daughter could be seen helping mom stack rocks. The two boys were getting to know the neighborhood, making mischief, and throwing rocks.

It looked like the Marchmans were finally home.

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