Activity and excitement was running at a high level on Drover Street in Huntington the morning of April 14. Nail guns were popping and hammers were pounding as Habitat for Humanity volunteers and staff kicked off its 2021 “build” season by erecting a new house at 1308.

No one was more excited than Ashlee Cochrane and her 7-year-old son, Theo, who will be the occupants of the house when it’s complete sometime in August. Theo was particularly happy to be wearing a red hard-hat, a nail apron and carrying a hammer. In addition, he got to miss the morning session of first grade at Roanoke Elementary School so he could help erect a couple walls before heading off to class.

His mom, a Huntington native and graduate of Huntington North High School, has already logged more than 60 volunteer hours and started the sweat equity investment in her own home by helping assemble the wall frames and raising the walls. She’s already chosen the counter tops, appliances, carpeting and color of siding and is looking forward to moving in and taking ownership next fall. Cochrane is employed at the Bowen Center where she is a skills coach.

The 1,100-square-foot, single-story home was originally scheduled for construction last year, but was delayed by COVID-19. It will be the second Habitat house on Drover Street. The first one was built in 2018. Habitat has completed a number of rehab jobs on the street, as well.

Property for the home was donated by local residents Tom and Rosie Wall. According to Andrew Gritzmaker, CEO of Habitat for Humanity of Greater Fort Wayne, the couple has several other properties they are considering donating for Habitat construction in 2022. “We’ve been talking with Huntington Mayor Richard Strick about having a continuous building presence in the city in the future,” Gritzmaker said. “Our goal is to build 20 houses a year in our service area which includes Huntington, Allen and Wells counties. In addition to this house, we’ll be constructing two in New Haven and nine in southeast Fort Wayne neighborhoods this year.”

Supporting the Huntington project are the Indiana Housing & Community Development Authority, Centerpoint Energy, Our Sunday Visitor and Novae Corp.

Greater Fort Wayne Habitat is a non-profit, non-denominational Christian housing ministry that unites volunteers and local investors with qualified families to provide the opportunity of affordable home ownership. In the past 35 years the organization has provided sustainable home ownership to 248 families in the region.

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