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Wednesday, June 25, 2008 03:39 pm

Taking shape

Volunteers pitch in for Habitat’s biggest-ever local project

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Patty Redpath
PHOTO BY DUSTY RHODES

At last week’s kickoff ceremony for the construction of Habitat for Humanity’s largest-ever project in Sangamon County, the presiding cleric couldn’t get anything right. Every time the Rev. Chuck Edwards mentioned that the house would be home to Patty Redpath and her seven kids, 2-year-old Olivia Redpath corrected him — loudly. “No!” she shouted, aiming her tiny index finger at the priest. “It’s Mommy!”
Aside from that snafu, however, the first few “blitz” days of the build went so well, the house has taken identifiable shape. “There’s rooms inside!” Patty gushes. “I think the kids are pretty awestruck.”
Patty formed her family through adoption, with seven children ranging in age from 2 to 17. All were born to mothers addicted to drugs or alcohol; most have attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, and some have additional special needs [see Dusty Rhodes, “Seventh heaven,” April 24]. Her older kids have been helping with the construction — 17-year-old Joey even worked on the roof.
Dana Plummer, executive director of Habitat for Humanity of Sangamon County, says the Redpath family has attracted an unusually generous team of donors and volunteers. Two Illinois Times readers each donated $1,000 and pitched in to help with the build. Another volunteer working on site last Saturday realized that the Redpath family would need a backyard fence and offered to donate one. “We had people after the article coming in randomly making small donations,” Plummer says. “I’ve never seen such support for a family as I have for this one.”
Springfield Mayor Tim Davlin, who attended Sacred Heart-Griffin with Redpath, surprised her by attending the kickoff ceremony. In an e-mail, city spokesman Ernie Slottag explains why: “He truly had a genuine interest in wanting to see the Habitat process firsthand.”
The project hasn’t been without controversy. Some officers in the homeowners’ association of Eastview Estates, where the Redpath home is being built, argue that her home will decrease their property values, partly because Habitat homes don’t have basements. Redpath says one neighboring family has ignored her greetings. “Others have been lovely, just lovely. Over time, I’m hoping, it will be fine,” she says. “What I’m being told is that it’s less about us and more about not wanting Habitat here — but it is personal for me, because at this point I am Habitat.”

Contact Dusty Rhodes at drhodes@illinoistimes.com.
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