Carbondale Habitat house gets help from many directions |

Carbondale Habitat house gets help from many directions

John Colson
John Colson / Post Independent
Staff Photo |

CARBONDALE — It was so cold on a recent morning here that a pair of volunteer workers had to wait for warmer temperatures before beginning their assigned task — shooting insulating foam into the walls of a Habitat For Humanity house being built in the Keator Grove subdivision off Highway 133.

But the wait, and the cold, did not deter Vallerie Miller and Pamela Britton, two of a crew of eight volunteers from the River Valley Ranch (RVR) subdivision who were helping out last Thursday at the construction site.

“We have to wait for the temperatures to warm up, because the foam won’t set up when it’s this cold,” said Britton, adding that she was depending on one of the professional members of the construction crew to let her know when to begin.

The house is being built for the family of Adam Lavender, a former carpenter, furniture maker and expert mountain biker who took a bad spill while testing an off-road biking course last year and ended up paralyzed from the chest down.

“It’s all about a good sense of community, helping and giving back. They’re very green, but they’re willing to help to get stuff done.”
Rick Farr
Site manager, Habitat for Humanity

A man with numerous friends in the valley, Lavender gets around in a motorized wheel chair now, and his family rents a house in the Iron Bridge subdivision while waiting for their new home.

Many of Lavender’s friends — and a number of strangers — have pitched in to help build a home for him, his wife, Tanell, and their three kids. The family’s saga is published on Habitat’s website (

Helping hands

The RVR crew was part of a larger program of volunteerism that has brought a variety of organizations, business and individuals to the building site over the course of the last eight or nine months.

The businesses and organizations that have pitched in to this particular project have included the Carbondale Rotary Club, the Mason & Morse real estate company, Wells Fargo Bank, Eshelman Construction, the Aspen Skiing Co., the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Aspen, the Aspen Jewish Congregation, Sunsense Solar, Jaywalker Lodge and, most recently, RVR, according to Habitat director Scott Gilbert and volunteer coordinator Geneva Farr.

Habitat was so impressed with the work of Thad Eshelman’s crew in getting all the windows installed in a day, according to the organization, they will be giving his company a “Business Partner of the Year” award.

In a tribute to the construction volunteers, two local restaurants, Allegria and The Goat, have furnished lunches for the work crews.

The volunteers on this particular day were Andy and Felicia Young, Mike and Vallerie Miller, Kevin Kreuz, Mike Cassetty, Britton, and Ian Hause, executive director at RVR.

At the site, Britton had noted that while the RVR volunteers did not have much construction experience, they were quick learners.

“It’s kind of good if an organization gets multiple visits,” she said. “It’ll be easier on our second visit.”

While the work last Thursday was the first time for the RVR crew, Britton wrote in an email at the end of the day, “We have decided to make this a monthly event … Third Thursday with Habitat!” Britton is the DRC administrator with RVR.

On-the-job learning

At the job, site manager Rick Farr of Habitat was showing volunteers how to do such things as operate nail guns, “rip” planks of lumber on a table saw for use as cross-beam braces, and erect scaffolding in preparation for hanging sheet rock on the walls.

Most of the volunteers said they had little construction experience in their past.

“Not very much,” said Cassetty, who is currently unemployed.

“I just wanted to, you know, see if I could help out,” he continued, jokingly adding, “We’ll see how much actual help I am.”

“They don’t get in my way,” said Scott Huff of Mountain Air Mechanical. “It’s just a typical job site, working with each other.”

He admitted, however, that “it’s definitely different” to have eight neophytes on the job site.

“But it’s good to see people in the community come out and pitch in,” Huff concluded.

Farr, who has been with Habitat for four years, is one of four site managers who are building projects right now in Carbondale and near Silt.

Praising the volunteers, one and all, Farr concurred with Huff: “It’s all about a good sense of community, helping and giving back. They’re very green, but they’re willing to help to get stuff done.”

Gilbert said the project got started with foundation work in late July, and there was some concern about getting the structure framed and closed in before winter.

But, he said, “We’ve had so much good volunteer help, we basically beat the winter, got it closed in by November.”

Farr, who also is the family services coordinator, said the hoped-for completion date is around late summer or early fall of 2014.

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