GREENFIELD — Greenfield Fire Territory firefighter David Wickard balanced atop a ladder, matching the edges of wooden planks together and nailing them tight.

The thud, thud, thud from a half dozen hammers echoed across the gray sky, disrupting the quiet, still morning. Every strike had an important purpose, Wickard knew: it meant a family somewhere close by was one step closer to a new home.

Construction recently began on Hancock County’s second Habitat for Humanity home, and this week, members of the county’s professional firefighters’ organization, Local 4787, got their hands dirty at the build site.

Habitat for Humanity is back in Hancock County, putting up its second home within Greenfield city limits, and leaders of the organization plan to build many more over time. Groups of volunteers from across the area have signed up to help build the new house, located on Tague Street in Greenfield, and this week, Wickard and other county firefighters took their turn.

Representatives from Habitat for Humanity of Greater Indianapolis say groups of volunteers, like these local firefighters, are essential to helping the organization achieve its mission. They’re reminding residents there is still time to help out with the house being constructed in Greenfield, as well as others across Central Indiana.

Habitat for Humanity is dedicated to providing housing to those who might not be able to afford a traditional mortgage.

The nonprofit’s homes go to hardworking and responsible applicants, who demonstrate financial need but stability: they must have had a steady income for at least two years, and they cannot have outstanding liens or bankruptcies. The group then relies on volunteers, rather than businesses, to construct a home at a lesser price while the new owner works to increase self-sufficiency.

Habitat for Humanity announced plans to build its first home in Greenfield in late 2015; construction wrapped up in the spring of 2016, with the owner moving in shortly thereafter.

Now, Habitat is back, organizing the construction of a new home for a Greenfield woman. And thanks to the quick, hard work of groups of volunteers, she’ll likely move into the house later this year.

Abri Hochstetler, a spokeswoman of Habitat, said the organization plans to be a growing presence in Hancock County for years to come, helping more and more families.

But they can’t do it without help from those who already call the place home, she said, and the group of Hancock County firefighters who traded in their turnout gear for tool belts this week helped prove that.

“Habitat is all about neighbor helping neighbor, and what the firefighters did today was a perfect example of that,” Hochstetler said.

Greenfield firefighter Corey Breese said he saw volunteering at the construction site as a way to give back to the community he serves every day in a different way.

So often, firefighters and other first-responders meet members of the community on their worst days, after tragedy or trouble, Breese said. Opportunities likes these are so important because they give firefighters a chance to interact with locals in a positive time, he said.

It’s a sign to residents that firefighters are there all the time, not just the bad times, Breese said. And maybe, should they meet again surrounded by mayhem, the resident will remember the firefighters and be calmed by a familiar face, he said.

Firefighter Jason Davis serves as the president of the local fire departments’ union and helped organize the volunteer event. He said a lot of the firefighters who signed up to help have backgrounds in construction. They picked a day where they could help put the roof on the home, knowing it was a task they’re team was equipped to handle.

“We don’t really mind having to climb up a ladder,” he said with a laugh.

How to help

To sign up to volunteer with Habitat for Humanity of Greater Indianapolis, visit www.indyhabitat.org.

Author photo
Caitlin VanOverberghe is a reporter at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. She can be reached at 317-477-3237 or cvanoverberghe@greenfieldreporter.com.