Monk and brother from Ladd spearhead effort, seek lot, $89 donations
LADD — It’s been all smiles and full speed ahead as Ladd residents, former residents and friends just launched a campaign to make home ownership possible for a local family.
Residents of Ladd and their neighbors met late last month to discuss the possibility of partnering with Habitat for Humanity of LaSalle, Bureau and Putnam counties to provide a home ownership opportunity for a local family.
The discussions included the Habitat mission, the Habitat home ownership program, and what this partnership would mean to the village of Ladd.
Two big reasons for the momentum of the project ad the Margherio brothers, who grew up in Ladd.
The village meeting in late January was spearheaded by two brothers — retired draftsman Dave Margherio and the Rev. Ron Margherio, St. Bede Abbey monk and St. Bede Academy chaplain.
“People seemed pretty excited,” Father Ron said of the response to the idea and the game plan in Ladd.
Habitat volunteers set up 24 chairs for that meeting in Ladd, figuring there would not be that many people. Then they had to set up more. So what was the attendance?
“Thirty or more, which I thought was surprising on a Sunday afternoon in a little town,” Father Ron said. “It was the week before Super Bowl; that was done on purpose I think. It wouldn’t have bothered me because I don’t watch the Super Bowl, but others do.”
In addition to gaining support at the meeting, students of St. Bede Academy have joined the cause, just recently presenting a $1,000 donation to Habitat for Humanity to applied for a project in Ladd.
Some St. Bede students have been deeply involved in Habitat for Humanity, as they make regular trips to the new home being built for a working mother and her two girls in Ottawa.
“We go at least once a month or every three weeks … sometimes kids repeat and sometimes others go,” said Ron, who drives the students to the project. “I usually take four … The last time we were down in the crawl space doing insulation.”
Ron got involved awhile back after dining with Habitat for Humanity supporter and friend Frank Zeller, and Ron invited his brother, Dave, to the build in Ottawa. He said his “brother’s big on helping,” especially if it’s to help someone who’s already a productive member of society to be able to take a step up to home owners.
“They check all these people out, they make payments on the house,” Father Ron said of the Habitat for Humanity families or individuals who apply for and receive approval to take on the responsibility of home ownership. In many cases, there’s no way the family which is renting can afford the extra costs of a down payment and other ownership costs.
Ron said his brother became extremely impressed when he went to Ottawa to volunteer and worked alongside a family member from Granville who has a Habitat home and continues to volunteer at Habitat projects.
Now the brothers are seeking support and cooperation to get a home built in Ladd.
“Together with Habitat, Dave and Father Ron have formed Club LADD 89. While Club LADD 89 was formed as a fundraiser to provide seed money to build a Habitat Humanity house in Ladd, it is so much more than that,” says Sally Van Cura, executive director, Habitat for Humanity of LaSalle, Bureau & Putnam Counties.
The 89 in the club name has two meanings.
First, Route 89 passes through Ladd.
Second, Club LADD 89 is asking people to pledge $89 (or more) because Habitat for Humanity planners figure they can build a 1,400-square-foot house for just barely more than $89 per square foot. Judging from the project in Ottawa, Father Ron said the Habitat house “will be as nice as any on that street.”
The club has been getting a nice online following, though Ron says, “I’m not the Facebook-savvy guy.”
Habitat for Humanity leaders and the Margherio brothers need to do more than raise funds.
“The first thing we’re working on is getting a lot. We’ve been getting that message out in Ladd,” he said, noting the project can’t start without a lot.
Margherio said Habitat officials and volunteers also have met with LaSalle and Peru mayors in hopes of finding a lot or lots eventually in LaSalle-Peru, and they’ve been talking with the Area Career Center about getting high school vocational/construction students involved in some way.
Father Ron says he has been impressed by the number of people who show up at the Ottawa construction project every week, ranging from volunteers who drive to the site, to the future homeowner to a neighborhood resident who not only volunteers but served the weekly lunch one day for volunteers.
“One neighbor comes over all the time and brought a big pot of chili,” Father Ron said.
“They witnessed the stories behind the build,” Van Cura said of the Margherios in a press release, including, “Valerie, the homeowner, working alongside volunteers for her own home. They saw neighbors coming out of their homes and putting on hardhats to join in the build. They understood the personal commitment of the construction manager, and met previous Habitat homeowners working to pay it forward for the next Habitat family. They understood the mission of Habitat and of the community working together for a common goal. Above all, the brothers felt the heart of the community. They witnessed a community bond being formed as neighbors help neighbors.”