Employees from three Loveland hotels, the Residence Inn, the Fairfield Inn and the Hampton Inn raise a wall Tuesday while buidling a Habitat for Humanity home with the help of other volunteers and staff in south Loveland. From right are Joe Boehnke, Amanda Wheadon, Isabel Bishop, Levi Bagdanov and Shelly Flores. (Jenny Sparks / Loveland Reporter-Herald)
Isabel Bishop, guest services manager of a Loveland hotel, picks up a hammer and nails Tuesday morning from the edge of a foundation for a fourplex.
“All right, let’s go hammer in that wall,” Bishop said to a few of the 10 hotel staff members from the Residence Inn where she works and the Hampton Inn Loveland and the Fairfield Inn & Suites.
Bishop, dressed in a winter coat and hat, walked a few steps to the framework for one of two walls that she and the volunteers, plus staff from Loveland Habitat for Humanity, helped raise 2 ½ hours into their seven-hour shift at 1609 Valency Drive.
Volunteers help build
The volunteers are one of many groups that come out to Habitat for Humanity construction sites to help build affordable homes for low-income Loveland residents. The groups typically come from businesses, churches, nonprofits and an assemblage of families or friends to sign up for a day of work and give a donation.
Habitat, which has two staff members working on the sites, Jim Antone and Shelly Flores, relies on volunteers to work in teams or as individuals of up to 10 people a day. The volunteers help with the construction from framing, installing drywalling, painting, trimming and adding siding during the build days Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
There are 40 regular volunteers who work week to week, mainly on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and 1,000 who volunteer over the course of a year, said Vince Deely, resource development and marketing director for Habitat for Humanity.
“This usually is our slow time of the year because of the weather,” Deely said. “To have a group come out on a winter day is especially helpful and shows great commitment and dedication to community service on their part. … The fact they’re here on a cold day, so full of energy, committed to help out is what is neat.”
The volunteers, in fact, are the “heartbeat” of Loveland Habitat, Antone said.
“Unlike a regular for-profit builder, we don’t formally have a construction crew per se,” Antone said. “So the volunteers are the essential part of us completing these homes.”
Hoteliers as Volunteers
Hoteliers with the Hampton Inn wanted to do a community service project to help celebrate the hotel’s service week at the end of October and, after housing several victims of the flood, decided to work with Habitat. Habitat is building homes both for Loveland residents and for flood victims through Rebuild Colorado, Habitat for Humanity of Colorado’s three-year flood recovery plan to build homes.
Following the September 2013 flood, the Hampton Inn filled up 70 percent of its rooms with victims of the flood after the busy summer season when the hotel typically is at 95 percent occupancy, said Amanda Wheadon, general manager of Hampton Inn Loveland.
The hoteliers at the three hotels, managed by Stonebridge Companies, found that building with Habitat was a way to recognize the flood victims who stayed at their hotels, Wheadon said.
“It’s special to us to give back any way we can,” she said. “We’re in hospitality, so we’re in the business of serving people.”
The hoteliers started their work clearing snow and ice from the foundations for the four connected homes, framing the walls, sawing lumber and putting in studs.
Bishop worked on lifting and cutting wood, using a saw and hammering, she said.
“I love sweating,” Bishop said. “When you break a sweat, you feel like you did something that day. When you see a nail hammered in or wood cut, it feels good.”
Stephen Marquis, engineer at the Residence Inn, spends much of his time doing maintenance for the hotel.
“I’m actually building the place versus just maintaining it,” Marquis said. “You get to learn how everything is put together and how it stays where it’s supposed to.”
On a build day like the one Tuesday, Loveland Habitat provides lunch. Because of the cold weather, Grace Community Church loaned its space for the meal.
“When a company sponsors a build day, we provide lunch,” Deely said.
Shelley Widhalm: 970-669-5050, firstname.lastname@example.org, twitter.com/ShelleyWidhalm