Kathy Rhinehart of Eldridge has an entire room in her basement filled with fabric just for Habitat for Humanity Quad-Cities, a Christian housing organization that builds affordable housing.
In 2005, Rhinehart, a seamstress with an eye toward design, decided she could help the Habitat cause by making window treatments for the new homes.
Since then, she has made treatments for 42 homes, five to eight windows per house.
These aren’t budget curtains made of cotton. They are pleated or gathered valances or swags made from high-end fabrics that she collects from home designers and furniture stores that no longer need them. And they are lined with material paid for by the mission group at Eldridge Methodist Church.
Rhinehart and her husband Robert measure the windows of the Habitat homes as soon as the window trim is up, and Robert and two other couples hang the treatments when the homes are finished. Rhinehart cuts the fabric and several others help her sew.
The Rhineharts, church members, store managers and the Eldridge Lions Club, which pays for the curtain rods and hardware, are among the literally thousands of people in the area who have made contributions to Habitat, now celebrating 20 years of building and selling homes in the Quad-Cities.
Here are the stories of some other people and organizations that have made key contributions over the years.
St. Pius sponsors whole house
In 2008, St. Pius X Catholic Church in Rock Island became the first church to singlehandedly provide financial sponsorship of an entire Habitat house — No. 51, at 801 11th Ave., Rock Island.
The building was also Habitat’s first two-story home in the Quad-Cities.
Marc Lemon, then the president of the St. Pius parish council, suggested the church take on the project as a way to celebrate its 50th anniversary, a way to turn faith into works.
The parish raised close to $70,000 through personal and corporate donations and fundraisers that included everything from children selling lemonade to adults hosting a dinner with live and silent auctions, the Rev. Michael Schaab said.
Parish members also put in a “tremendous amount of work” actually building the home, he said. Others provided meals for the work crews and documented the project with photos.
Couple builds, donates skylights
Ed and Judy Connelly of Bettendorf are practically legends in Habitat lore, having overseen the construction of 13 Quad-City homes through 2011.
And for each home they help build, they pay for a skylight for the bathroom because they like how it brightens the room. “It’s our gift to them,” Judy said.
The couple got involved in Habitat through their church, Redeemer Lutheran in Bettendorf.
“It’s a good fit for us,” Judy, 67, said. “He likes to pound nails and build things, and I like to be around people and socialize.
“We started out working on one and we thought we’d leave, we’d be done, because you give up every Saturday of your life.
“But we got Habitat-itis. You get hooked. You look forward to it. And the partner families are awesome, seeing them grow and bloom and the pride they have in their home. I probably get more out of it than the partners. And each home, you meet someone new.”
‘Merry Band’ provides ongoing help
The ‘Merry Band’ is another Habitat legend and embodies the camaraderie and good times that are characteristic of the Quad-City organization.
The term is a moniker that Terry Timmerman, the director of volunteers and “sweat equity,” hung on the group of mostly retired men. Now numbering about 90, the Band works on build sites during the week, helping to catch up on projects or “when our back is against the wall,” Timmerman said. They are highly skilled in various aspects of home-building, so they don’t need a supervisor.
“There’s a guy who coordinates their work and I let them do their thing,” Timmerman said.
The group coalesced in 2006 when a couple of retired volunteers decided to call their friends to join the effort.
Woman hopes to give back, hone skills
Rebekah Mikmi, 32, of Davenport, is a new female volunteer for Habitat, beginning in August at House No. 78, which is under construction on Davenport’s Belle Avenue.
The mother of two, she liked wood shop and drafting classes in high school and is trained in heating and air-conditioning repair. She volunteers because she wants to give back to the community, and home-building “deals with things I like to do,” she said. “I like carpentry, I like building stuff.”
She also sees the work as an opportunity to learn and gain skills that she hopefully can put to use when she can buy her own home.
Quilters add warmth to homes
Two groups make quilts for Habitat families: the Mississippi Valley Quilters Guild and the quilt ministry at Park View Lutheran Church.
The guild has given one 80-by-80-inch (large full/small queen) quilt to each house since 2000-01, member Carol Baldry said. The quilts are made by “whoever volunteers at the time,” she added.
The Park View ministry was begun in 2006 by Shirley Mirfield and Janice Thomsen, and since that time it has provided 112 twin-size quilts.
“Each child gets a quilt of their own,” she said. About 12 quilters are in the core group. Some will cut, others do the binding or the tops, and three members with long-arm quilting machines do the quilting.
Mizner: Pounding nails is stress relief
During the week, Dan Mizner, 54, of Moline, is a field service technician for Walgreens stores, working a territory from Dixon, Ill., west to Dubuque and Cedar Rapids and south to Keokuk, Iowa. Every other week, he is “on call,” meaning he can easily put in another 20 hours in addition to his regular 40.
But weekends are for Habitat. Supervising home construction crews is his stress relief. “If I’ve had a bad week, I go pound a few nails,” he said.
His contribution is more than that, of course, and the time he puts in exceeds the eight hours he gives every Saturday for six to nine months at a stretch.
He carries home plans with him on his smartphone, and during breaks at his job, he’s often fiddling with ideas, or scheduling supplies or workers.
Mizner had long thought of volunteering for Habitat, but his first involvement came through his wife Karen, a Modern Woodmen of America employee, when the company built a home as part of a 125th anniversary celebration in 2007.
During the fall of 2008, Mizner became the lead supervisor on a home when, about one-third of the way through, the other supervisor had to pull back. Since then, Mizner has supervised the building of four other homes and is working on his fifth.
Along the way, he’s learned a lot about home construction and dealing with people. He’s also boosted his confidence and public speaking skills.
“It’s a challenge sometimes, but I’m doing what I’m enjoying,” he said.