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No wall too heavy

The Madisonian - Staff Photo -

As leadership expert John Maxwell once said, “It takes teamwork to make the dream work.” This sentiment could not have been better represented in Ennis on Sept. 8. That was the day that volunteers convened on Otis Avenue for the official Habitat Raise the Walls event at the organization’s second homesite in the community. One of those volunteers was Ennis resident Beth Hageman, who got the ball rolling on the 10-lot project in the North Forty neighborhood several years ago. She recognized the need for affordable housing in her community and decided to do something about it. “There were people that live and work here, but couldn’t afford housing,” said Hageman, standing amidst the controlled chaos of construction at the homesite. “I heard it so many times that I thought, I need to try to do something about that.” Try she did, contacting Habitat for Humanity of Gallatin Valley, thus beginning the collaboration between the non-profit who teamed up with Josh Vujovich, real estate agent and developer of the North Forty. Their efforts resulted in the purchase of 10 lots, destined to become the land where 10 families or individuals in need would work hand in hand with Habitat to bring their dream of homeownership to life. Flash-forward three years, add in support from county commissioners and the Ennis city council, and two of the 10 lots now have Habitat home projects underway. Hageman was the first to admit she had no building skills but was thrilled to be onsite for the project to help out wherever she could, as a “gofer.” “You just come and pitch in, and everyone is so fantastic,” said Hageman. “What’s great about connecting with the Gallatin Valley Habitat group is that they’re experienced, they have their general contractor that manages it, so you know it’s going to go up well and smoothly.” With the Habitat teacher housing project ending in Big Sky, the Ennis Habitat homes are now the main focus for Habitat for Humanity of Gallatin Valley. The organization’s program manager, Kara Meier, was also pitching in for the wall raising event on the 8th. Amidst the buzz of saws and impact drivers clicking, Meier offered insight on what she considers a much-needed project: a true team and community-driven effort. Meier described a team of dedicated volunteers of all skill levels as well as experienced contractors willing to lend a hand. Businesses have also contributed; donating supplies and even building materials during a time when those commodities are in high demand and sold at a premium. “We’ve done really well considering the supply and demand being what it is,” said Meier, who explained some of the volunteer work has been delayed during a patient wait for prerequisite construction steps and essential materials. “Now that we have those materials, we can bring volunteers back to the jobsite and get back to business.” Hayden Outdoors Real Estate also lent a hand on the 8th, sponsoring the day by providing food and refreshments for the volunteers. Melinda Merrill, managing broker for Hayden, said her office is challenging other Ennis businesses to “Give one day,” be it by hands-on volunteering, providing food for volunteers, or by donating financially. Anyone interested in helping out with the ongoing project can sign up online at www. habitatbozeman.volunteerhub. com where a calendar of opportunities will be made available. For any questions regarding volunteering, folks can reach out to Habitat’s Volunteer Coordinator, Drew McLaughlin, at 406-388-8225 x103 or email her at volunteer@habitatbozeman. org. Anyone interested in Habitat’s homeownership program is welcomed to visit www.habitatbozeman.org for more information and qualifications. They can also Contact Meier at karam@ habitatbozeman.org or 406-388- 8225 x104.

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