Thursday, May 07, 2009
sponsored by Graue Inc.

Personality of the Week

His passion and skill provides homes and more for families in Logan County: George Dahmm

Send a link to a friend

[May 07, 2009]  At the age of 83, Habitat for Humanity of Logan County volunteer George Dahmm says he has come to realize that there are some things he just can't do anymore.

To that end, for the first time since 1992, Dahmm is not going to be participating in the actual building of a Habitat home this year. However, that does not mean that Habitat will not still be front and center in his life.

He says that giving his time to Habitat is a way of giving back to a community that supported his family's construction business for years, and he intends to continue giving back as long as he's able.

A native of Logan County, Dahmm has lived in Lincoln for more than half a century. He and Eva, his wife of 50-plus years, have raised four daughters. Three live in Lincoln and the fourth now lives on the family farm on the county's west side. George and Eva also have seven grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

Dahmm was raised on the family farm but said that it was not large enough to support everyone. So when he got out of school, he went to work for Fuller Seed Co. in Lincoln. After a stint in the Army, George returned to Fuller but soon moved on to work for the bottle factory.

He explained that at the bottle factory he worked swing shift, which he really didn't care for, as it took time away from his family. At the same time, his brother Wallace was working at Pittsburgh Plate Glass in Lincoln, also on the swing shift, and Wallace didn't care for his hours either.

When Wallace was laid off and then called back to work, he told George he just could not bring himself to go back. So, the two men decided to draw upon their natural talents as carpenters to start their own business. George says that over the years, Dahmm Brothers Construction built 100 homes in Lincoln.

Just before they intended to retire, they purchased an empty lot and were going to build one last house, but then decided not to. Instead they donated the property to the newly formed local chapter of Habitat for Humanity.

George remembers that it was 1992, and Bill Sahs was just getting the program off the ground in Logan County. When the Dahmm Brothers offered their property, Sahs asked George to get involved by leading that first build.

Since that time, Habitat has built a total of 13 homes in Logan County, including the one they are working on now in Mount Pulaski. Of the 13, Dahmm has been involved in the construction effort on 11.

Because the families who receive Habitat homes are required to spend 100 hours working on their own home, plus another 150 hours on various Habitat projects, Dahmm says that he gets to know the families, and when it is time to turn over the keys, it is an emotional event.

"I've been the one to give the key on several occasions, and I have to tell you that, always, a tear comes to my eye. These families are receiving something that they would not otherwise be able to have, and you need to remember, Habitat is a 'hand up' not a handout. They have worked for their home, and they appreciate it," he said.

In addition to the time he's spent on homes, which has proven to be very meaningful and rewarding, Dahmm recalls another occasion that meant a great deal to him.

He said that he and fellow volunteer Joe Runyon had the opportunity to attend a conference where Habitat founder Millard Fuller was going to be speaking. When he got the opportunity to meet Fuller face to face and shake his hand, it was a very exciting moment in his life that he will never forget.

While Dahmm is not going to be working on home construction in the future, he still has plans to be a part of the Habitat effort. He says that within the next couple of weeks, the group will commence construction on a new building at 915 Woodlawn, next to the Regions Bank drive-up branch. This will be the official Habitat office and a permanent structure for the organization's produce market.

From this location, Dahmm will continue to serve Habitat as the lead at the garden market.

[to top of second column]

Auto Sales

Fellow volunteer and longtime friend Joe Runyon spoke about George. "He was one of the first volunteers that helped get Habitat started here," Runyon said. "He's very devoted to it and puts in a lot of time, probably a lot more than most people could imagine, and he's donated his own materials and tools to the work. "

Runyon added that in addition to the building of homes, George has been very involved in the produce market that Habitat runs.

The produce market, which began when Kasa Truck Farm donated sweet corn to Habitat and the IGA store agreed to sell it for them free of commissions, has continually grown over the years and is one of Habitat's best fundraisers.

Dahmm says, "Where else can you give a cash donation and immediately get something in return?" He adds that all the produce is donated, and the lion's share comes from Matt Grieme, who raises a large garden each year and gives it all to Habitat.

Later this spring, Habitat will be placing a street sign at the corner of North Hamilton and Lincoln Avenue to honor George and his brother. That location was chosen because there are three Habitat homes there, and on all three, George was the construction foreman.

Toni Reifsteck, president of the Logan County Habitat chapter, said: "We wanted to honor George because he is 'Mr. Habitat.' He carries Habitat in his heart, and I believe the only thing in the world that means more to him is his family."

She went on to explain that when they told George they wanted to honor him in this way, he asked that they include his brother, as that first property donated belonged to both of them.

Reifsteck said that they decided not to include George's first name on the sign but just call it "Habitat Dahmm Corner" to include the brother.

Although Habitat takes up most of Dahmm's free time, he does make time to once a month travel to Springfield to participate in a cancer support group.

He explained that he is a 26-year colon cancer survivor and is currently a leader of the Capitol Ostomy Association, a support group that meets monthly to discuss cancer-related issues with newly diagnosed patients.

Dahmm says that when folks are learning to live with their prognosis and their treatment, they sometimes need to talk about what they are going through with someone who's been there. "When someone brings up a new topic, there is at the very least one person in the group who has experienced the same thing and can share how they felt and how they dealt with it," he said.

Because George Dahmm is the kind of person who has dedicated his life to helping others, from being a caring brother, husband and father, to a giver of hope to those suffering from cancer, and offering a "hand up, not a handout" to families in need in Logan County, it is an honor to name him this week's "Personality of the Week."


(Habitat for Humanity of Logan County)

Personality of the Week archives

< Top Stories index

Back to top


News | Sports | Business | Rural Review | Teaching and Learning | Home and Family | Tourism | Obituaries

Community | Perspectives | Law and Courts | Leisure Time | Spiritual Life | Health and Fitness | Teen Scene
Calendar | Letters to the Editor