More than 50 employees worked on House No. 20, part of a Blitz Build in the Detroit area.

Amy Tuttle of Walls & Ceilings was one of the volunteers.

Habitat For Humanity International's motto is “A hand up, not a hand out.” Dozens of employees lent their hands - and hearts - in building BNP Media-sponsored House No. 20, one of 31 homes dedicated Friday, June 24, as part of HFHI's Jimmy Carter Work Project in Detroit's Core City/Thurgood Marshall neighborhood. The house is now the home of Efrain and Damaris Guevara and their five children.

“All aspects of this project were incredible,” said Tim Fausch, BNP Media Plumbing Group publishing director. “The Habitat organizers ran the project with great precision, our volunteers worked with amazing commitment, and the Gueveras represented the ideal family that everyone wanted to help.”

The home was built in one week. Photo courtesy of John Wyatt
Known as a Blitz Build, the annual project takes place in a single location and results in the construction of a large volume of homes in just one week. Low-income families receive the homes by committing to no-interest loans and providing hundreds of hours of “sweat equity” on their home and other Habitat homes.

For volunteers, the Blitz Build provides an opportunity to serve others in a meaningful way. Most Habitat families have undergone hardship and are struggling with housing. Habitat is able to provide affordable housing because of donated labor, materials and funds.

The Detroit project employs a strategy called neighborhood infill. The strategy involves placing homes on vacant lots located in the same neighborhood, thus increasing the appearance and value of an entire area. To reinforce the infill strategy, a new playground was installed in the center of the neighborhood. In addition, Habitat is working with local groups to encourage grants and further investment in the neighborhood.

The Guevara Family have a new home. Photo courtesty of James Hohner
The BNP Media employees involved in building Home No. 20 left their office jobs and were greeted only by a foundation and floor base upon arrival at the work site. More than 50 people participated throughout the week. By the end of the first day, volunteers had raised the walls, installed trusses and roof boards, and framed interior walls. Professional contractors then installed rough plumbing, electrical and HVAC. Over the course of the next five days, volunteers installed insulation, a bathroom tub, fixtures, sinks, faucets, shingles, doors, windows, siding, trim, floor tile, appliances, cabinets and landscaping. They sawed, drilled, caulked, painted, stapled and nailed. It was noisy, dirty, sweaty work. And yet they loved every minute of it.

“It was an exhausting but very rewarding week,” said volunteer Donna Edwards of BNP Media's research department. “The memories and friendships made will stay with me always.”

BNP Media's Tim Fausch, George Zebrowski and Scott Franz were among the volunteers. SUPPLY HOUSE TIMES participated in the project.
Thursday provided some nice memories for volunteers. In the morning, former President Jimmy Carter and his wife Roslyn visited house No. 20 and presented a signed Bible to the Guevara family. For lunch, the BNP Media work crew was treated to a Puerto Rican-style meal home-cooked by Damaris.

On Friday, the final day of the build, the crew and family celebrated together with a ceremony that acknowledged everyone's contributions. The ceremony was concluded with the handing over of the home's keys to the Guevara family.

The project began with a foundation and floor base. Photo courtesy of Jessa Fausch
“I was touched by the thankfulness of the house family,” said volunteer Katie Zarrilli, BNP Media administrative assistant. “I was grateful to have played a small part in this.”