Commentaries posted do not necessarily represent the opinion of LDN.
 Any opinions expressed are those of the writers.

Ed. note: The following is the May 23 dedication address for the newest Logan County Habitat for Humanity home, written by Harley Petri. Petri is an active participant working on the homes and serves on the Habitat board. The Brenda Kodatt family now occupies the home at 1409 N. Kankakee St. in Lincoln.

Habitat group works magic, transforms house to home     Send a link to a friend

By Harley Petri

[JUNE 5, 2004]  When I was a child growing up in Green Bay, Wis., one of the things that I really enjoyed doing was going with my family on Thursday evenings to Murphy Park for the weekly concert by the Green Bay Municipal Band. (And all you thought Green Bay had was a football team.) They put on a great concert every week. One week they even went to a different park, across the street from a church that had a carillon. They played the "1812 Overture" with the carillon in the background as well as shooting off fireworks to represent the cannon being fired. That was a special concert, indeed.

But then, I thought every concert was special, and one of the things that made them special for me was the closing number each week. You see, it was a tradition for the band to end each concert with the band accompanying a vocalist who sang "Bless this House." I really enjoyed hearing "Bless this House" even though I heard it every week. It was almost as solemn a moment for me as the opening "Star-Spangled Banner." But, I must admit, as a child, I was never really sure why they closed with "Bless this House," since we were in the great outdoors and not in a house. Now tuck that thought away for a few minutes as I move on. I will return to it later.

Last summer my wife and I were trying to locate a house to buy where our daughter and grandchildren could live and call home. An impending divorce and a cramped apartment were forcing us to do something on which we had not planned.


I was willing to look for a fixer-upper, or as the current real estate vernacular calls it, "a house needing TLC." I knew I could put in the sweat equity better than I could afford to buy a nicer home for them, and I do have some friends who I thought might be willing to help. I think Carol and I drove by every house in town that was for sale that had three bedrooms and was in our price range: "cheap."

This was one of them. We didn't even stop to peek in the windows. It looked too small, was built on a slab and according to my favorite television network, HGTV, it lacked "curb appeal."

Later in the summer George Dahmm called me to tell me that the county board had been given a house by HUD, and it had to be used in some sort of a low-income housing program. They wanted to give it to HFH. When he said it was located on North Kankakee, I knew exactly which house it was. [Petri's daughter had chosen another home.]

At that point, I did at least stop and peek in the windows. It looked really small and, according to my favorite television network, HGTV, it certainly lacked "curb appeal." Even though the price was right -- only $1, and I think that Leonard Krusemark paid that -- I still found it difficult to get excited about using it in the HFH program.


Fortunately, God has better vision than I, and he saw an unused, unwanted, run-down home and knew that it could be turned into a thing of beauty and function for a family that just needed a helping hand. God's good at things like that, isn't he? When we give him a chance he can turn anything or anyone into something good.

In case you are not familiar with the program of HFH, this home is not being given to Brenda and her girls. Brenda has worked hard for it and she will pay for it. HFH gives a helping hand, not a handout. Brenda applied to be a HFH homeowner. She was checked out and found to be eligible and willing to participate. She has already put in many hours of sweat equity toward the reconstruction of this house.


[to top of second column in this article]

She is the first person that I, as treasurer of this organization, have ever encountered that has had her down payment in the escrow account for three months before dedication day. Usually, I walk away from the dedication and open house with $500 cash tucked away somewhere so that you can't see it, because the homeowner has waited until the last minute to fulfill that part of the arrangement.

Brenda will sign a mortgage with us and be making payments for the next 20 years. That's not a handout. Yes, that mortgage is interest-free. Yes, the cost of the house is only 70 percent of the appraised value, but that's the helping hand -- HFH, God's people accepting donations of property, time, talent and money and partnering with others of God's people who need a helping hand to have a decent, affordable place to live.

This is the eighth time we have done this in Logan County in the past 11 years -- eight families that have a decent affordable home of their own, an opportunity that they might never have had if it were not for the ministry of HFH.

Brenda, we are pleased to be here today to dedicate this house and ask that God may bless you and your girls and that you may take this house and turn it into a home.

As I return to my original thought, would you bow with me as we make the words of the song that closed each of those band concerts our prayer today.

Bless this House

Bless this house, O Lord, we pray,

Make it safe by night and day.

Bless these walls so firm and stout,

Keeping want and trouble out.

Bless the roof and chimneys tall,

Let thy peace lie over all.

Bless this door that it may prove,

Ever open to joy and love.

Bless these windows shining bright,

Letting in God's heav'nly light,

Bless the hearth a-blazing there,

With smoke ascending like a prayer!

Bless the folk who dwell within,

Keep them pure and free from sin.

Bless us all that we may be,

Fit, O Lord, to dwell with Thee.

Bless us all that one day we may dwell,

O Lord, with Thee!


(Words and music by Helen Taylor and May Morgan)

[Address by Harley Petri]

Previous commentaries

Back to top


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

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