One way a church or business can work with Habitat for Humanity of Greater Dayton is to fund and provide volunteers for a panel build.
This is a one- or two-day event during which a team of volunteers comes together and builds the walls for a future Habitat home in their parking lot. Habitat for Humanity of Greater Dayton partners with CrossRoads Missions out of Cincinnati to coordinate the event.
CrossRoads’ program is called “Help Build Hope,” so the panel build was a natural for Be Hope Church in Beavercreek, which sponsored an event Aug. 6-7. Pastor Sheila Slone said the project fit their focus on the community perfectly.
“This is Hope Week for us; we hold it the first week in August every year and pick a charity to impact in our community,” she said. “This year we said, ‘Let’s do something big and return to Habitat.’”
Sponsoring churches and businesses donate to Habitat to cover the growing cost of the walls and also recruit volunteers to build the walls. This is the second panel build for Be Hope, which did its first seven years ago.
“Habitat gives back to the community in such big ways,” Sheila said. “As soon as we started announcing it, there was a lot of excitement about the project. The possibility of giving back to our own community in such a big way really drew us back to Habitat.
“This is the crescendo of our week,” she continued. “Our whole goal is to be hope to our community. Our whole mission is to be someone’s first church, so we understand that we have to do things a little differently. We also know that people learn and grow the most through service. So, we serve in the church and outside the church. It’s easier to invite someone to work beside you and be part of Habitat’s mission. They sense something different.”
Different is a good way to describe CrossRoads’ mission, serving by building walls for affordable homes. They have framed the walls for over 1,000 homes since they were founded in 1993, most of those projects going to Habitat. The blessings from this ministry keep Dave Lockwood, a retired CrossRoads project manager, coming back as a volunteer.
“I love meeting people,” said Lockwood, who lives in Cincinnati and worked for CrossRoads from 2008-2020 before retiring last October. “I’ve met some incredible people over the years (while leading panel builds). I have some incredible relationships and great friendships as a result. They have made permanent impressions on my life.”
Ryan Oiler, who headed Be Hope’s project for CrossRoads, is one of those people. He started as a volunteer under Lockwood in 2015 and was a major reason Dave volunteered for this project.
“My home church does two builds a year, and in 2015 they had asked for volunteers to deliver some panels and I was the only one who showed up. That’s how I got to know Dave,” said Ryan. “Over five years, I ended up doing 24 builds.”
That led to Ryan joining the staff this year as a project manager.
“This is not a paying job,” he said. “It is strictly missionary work. We have to raise our own funding to do the work.”
So it’s kind of like Ryan works to pay himself to do volunteer work? Why?
“Over the years, I have found that I feel closest to God when I am on the back of a hay wagon in 100-degree weather. Doing panel builds is the only other time I’ve ever felt like that,” he answered. “For me to be able to do that more often is really a treat for me. I’m hoping to be doing this for another 30 years.”
Ryan was impressed with the servant hearts and focus he found at the Be Hope panel build.
“It was actually one of the smoothest builds I ever had, even under Dave,” he said. “They were there to serve. There were a few minor issues with the (building) plans but they were easy to fix. It kinda helped that a lot of these guys work together during the week. They can get things done really fast.”
There will be six panel build events for our Habitat affiliate in the next three months. Reynolds & Reynolds will build two sets of panels and Fuyao’s Heren Foundation will sponsor a panel build in October. Two other churches will be donating a set of panels as well: Stillwater Church and Concord Church. The panel build projects also save time as it would take about three weeks on a construction site with a normal crew to replicate the work one panel build accomplishes in mere hours.
“It’s a great way to get a large number of people engaged and volunteering with Habitat all at once,” said Habitat Development Manager Dave Mauch. “On a typical build site, we can only utilize eight volunteers at once, but on a panel build site we can utilize up to 200 people at once.
“To see the exterior/walls/panels of a home built in a matter of hours is very emotional and inspirational,” he continued. “It shows you the power of teamwork and if everyone does their part, we can accomplish great things as a team. Panel builds help us build stronger relationships with the faith and business communities. It’s a great team-building exercise and allows us to engage with community partners in a unique way.
If your church, business, school or other organization is interested in doing a future panel build, call Dave at (937) 965-7677or email at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you’d like to volunteer for Habitat in other ways, contact Krissy Day at the same number.