What Seneca Habitat for Humanity has been doing for 25 years
November 1985 - Citizens meet informally to discuss starting an affiliate for HFH. Items discussed: educate the public and gain its support; investigate land possibilities; select board of directors; set up bank account;. incorporate for tax-exempt status; develop a project; and form a public relations group.
1986 - The Seneca County welfare director supplies a report stating that 75-80 percent of the welfare families have housing problems, especially with utility bills. A steering committee is formed, and a board of directors is elected: the Rev. Charles Selby, John Kauffman, Mary Jane Swinehart, Gaylord Snavely, Robert Joyce, Marion Blue, Wilma Recker, George Deinzer, Joan Groce, Sister Leanne Kerchner, the Rev. Alex Dandar, Faye Lyon and Eugene Werling. Articles of incorporation and bylaws are accepted.
In 2000, Tiffin Lions Club members helped to build a Habitat house at 227 Sixth Ave.
1987 - Helen Pfeifer donates her home at 66 Grace St. to SHFH. Three families apply, and the Thomas Dayton family is chosen to receive the house. Next, SHFH closes on 402 N. Washington St., which becomes the home of the Smith family. SHFH sells a home on Elm Street and the seller pays $12,900 to SHFH for the sale.
1988 - Ground breaking is done for 121 N. Monroe St. to be occupied by the Magers family.
1989 - A house on Crocker Street in Fostoria is purchased. Later that year, SHFH buys a parcel at 292 Clay St.
1990 - SHFH moves into the United Way building on Jefferson Street for office space and a meeting room.
1991 - Fourth Avenue and Vine Street properties are purchased. Dedications take place for Clay and Crocker street homes. Two more families are accepted for home ownership.
1992 - The Acre home is dedicated, and Baker and Kiesel families are approved. SHFH buys property on Hall Street and the Reedy home.
1993 The group of homes on Fourth and Warren avenues and Vine Street is named Habitat Village. A donor gives SFHF a double lot on Seventh Avenue. Property is purchased on Sixth Avenue.
1994 SHFH receives grant money from Federal Home Loan Bank, National Machinery Foundation and the Meshech-Frost Foundation.
1995 The Highland Addition is replatted for SHFH. Habitat constructs a warehouse on Grace Street on a lot donated by Mr. and Mrs. Hugh Bernet.
1996 - Two groups of SHFH volunteers traveled to Paducah, Ky., and Farrell-Sherard, Miss., to work on Habitat homes there. Wilbur Mackling donates 26 Ash St. for rehabilitation. Heidelberg students help with rehabbing.
1997 - After 10 years in existence, SHFH hires Suzanne Donaldson as its first executive director. Homes at 190 Fifth Ave., 133 Warren Ave. and 230 Second Ave. are dedicated.
1998 - Dedications at 184 Fifth Ave. and 278 Seventh Ave. take place. Sentinel building trades students work on houses at 196 and 202 Fifth Ave.
1999 - A map of Habitat homes is created. Income is obtained from Methodist churches and matching donation from anonymous donor. Application is filed for a self-help opportunity program grant from Housing and Urban?Development, and SHFH works with WSOS on installation of water heaters and insulation. Church group from Bath donates $1,000 and volunteer workers for three days. American Standard donates nine fixtures. Much of the work crew goes to Mississippi to work on homes. Partner families receive Christmas boxes. Two families pay off their mortgages.
2000 - A homeowners' association is formed. Property is purchased on Sixth Avenue, and building begins. Habitat owns nine lots on Fifth and Sixth avenues. The Ohio Legislature contributes $10,000 toward construction of a home for the Santillana/Hernandez family, who are refugees from political turmoil in El Salvador. J&J Builders puts roof on a Sixth Avenue house; Whirlpool donates refrigerators and ranges for all Habitat homes built this year and a new computer for the office; American Standard donates more fixtures; First Lutheran youth group and Master Gardeners do landscaping. Lions Club donates $26,250 and volunteer labor for Sixth Avenue home. SHFH becomes associate agency of United Way.
2001 - SHFH participates in Circle of Hope Build with an appearance by Hope Taft. Habitat purchases site of former Cook's store at First and Vine. Whirlpool extends donation of refrigerators and ranges to all new U.S. Habitat houses through 2004. Larson Door Co. donates storm doors, and Certainteed company donates shingles for two houses. The six homes on Sixth Avenue is designated as Habitat Corners. SHFH participates in Make a Difference Day.
2002 - Plans for the first three houses at Habitat Corners are approved. Meshech-Frost Foundation donates $10,000 for a house at that location. A grant application to Aid Association of Lutherans Sponsorship and Partnership for $20,000 is submitted and later approved.
The Habitat office moves to the warehouse at 65 Grace St. Closing takes place on Sixth Avenue house, and lots are purchased on Elm and Seneca avenues. Seneca Habitat participates in Make a Difference Day by doing a project in Republic.
2003 - The Perotti-Dutt Duo gives a benefit concert for SHFH at The Ritz Theatre.
2004 - A website committee is established. Construction begins on the Seneca/Elm site. Michelle Neidermier is accepted as the new executive director.
2005 - A church relations committee is established. Neidermier resigns, and Michele Bighouse becomes the new executive director. Three houses on First Avenue are dedicated. SHFH pursues purchase of former ball field on Third Avenue.
2006 - Parsonage of Second United Church of Christ is donated to Habitat and sold for a net profit of $36,187.10. Elks and Seneca Kruisers make donations; Sentinel students work on wiring for 230 Elm Ave. The city of Tiffin arranges a Community Development Block Grant for street extension and infrastructure on Third Avenue. Habitat hosts a golf scramble and raffle at Seneca Hills. Three houses on Elm are dedicated. New website begins operation. Director's position is changed from 20 to 40 hours per week.
2007 - Building chairman Bob Rice dies. Grace Street warehouse is named for him. Cliff Farmer is elected SHFH president, and Bob Overholt and Faye Lyon are honored as charter members. Construction continues on 187, 193 and 199 Fifth Ave., with wiring on one house by Sentinel students. Water company donates cost for Third Avenue water lines. Firefighters set trusses and complete roof at 203 Fifth Ave. Golf outing at Nature Trails brings in more than $18,000, with an additional $1,020 from blimp ride drawing. Smith and LeGrant homes are dedicated. SHFH is approved for Lumber Program Grant Agreement.
2008 - Third Avenue property is paid off. Dan Galaba becomes president. City puts in storm sewer, curbs and street paving on Third Avenue. Homes must have electric heat because no gas line exists, and SHOP grants require Energy Star construction. Golf scramble moves to Fostoria Country Club. A partner family is de-selected for not contributing sweat-equity hours. Bighouse participates in Women Build in Michigan. Lowe's donates to SHFH by matching the money customers spent on gift cards during the store's grand opening.
2009 - Wayne Kromer is elected president. Contributions come from Alpha Phi Tau at Heidelberg, Softwood Lumber, two estates and participation in Kroger Rewards Program. Habitat forecloses on one partner family. Bighouse resigns, and Josef Swora is selected as executive director.
2010 - Sentinel students work on 14th house, under leadership of Tom Renninger. Foreclosed home is sold at sheriff's sale. Several families file for bankruptcy, but mortgages are not affected. One family pays off its mortgage after 13 years. Grants come in from SHOP, FHLB, National Machinery, Softwood Lumber and others. Tiffin Charitable Foundation, Attica Raceway Park and Hancock-Wood Electric Co-op also award grants. Alvada Construction, Clouse Construction and J.B. Roofing put on a roof. Church and Dwight donates cleaning supplies for new partner families. YMCA gives free one-year memberships to new partner families. Bob Evans gives a portion of a day's sales to SHFH. Ballreich's donates snacks for volunteer lunches and donates $1,000 towards mortgage of each new partner family.
2011 - Gala for 25th anniversary is planned for June 3 at Camden Falls. Sentinel does plumbing for Habitat houses. Clouse Construction plans to put up a roof on a Third-Avenue home.
Volunteers are needed to continue the work of Seneca Habitat. In addition to builders, people are needed to serve on the family selection committee, family support committee, church relations committee and as board members. To volunteer, apply for a home or receive more information, call the Habitat office at (419) 447-4270.