MORTON, Ill. – After
receiving a building permit last week, Habitat for Humanity’s Habitat for
Heroes program, held a groundbreaking ceremony in Morton, Ill., April 12, where
Sgt. Brian Wood of Peoria, Ill., and his family will reside in their new house.
The house should be built no later than September 2014.
LeaAnne Schmidgall, executive director of Habitat for Humanity, said the Wood
family completed a lengthy acceptance process, but everything just fit. It just came together, she said.
Wood enlisted in the U.S. Army in 2003, serving on active
duty for 10 years, receiving two bronze stars over multiple deployments. He is
now a member of the Illinois Army National Guard and serves with Company A, 1st
Battalion, 178th Infantry in Bartonville, Ill.
Originally, the house was to be built of wood; however,
the neighborhood houses were built with brick.
The community came together and donated brick for the project. With the amount of brick donated, the family
will have a new home made entirely of brick.
“God set aside this lot for Brian and Julie and that’s
why the lot is still available,” said Schmidgall. “With the amount of brick
that was donated for the Wood’s home, all of the houses built this year will
have some brick in them.”
More than 200 people came to witness the groundbreaking,
to include the mayor of Morton and Congressman Aaron Schock of the 18th
Congressional District, who is the “master sponsor” for the first Habitat
for Humanity Greater Peoria Area Veteran’s Build.
“This family is
easy to support. They have been
residents of Peoria until now,” said Schock. “Give them not a ‘hand-out’, but a
‘leg-up’, which is what Habitat for Heroes is all about.”
Ron Rainson, the mayor of Morton welcomed the Wood family
with a gift and a few short words. This
project has enlightened the community to veteran’s issues, which is the focal
point of Habitat for Heroes, said Rainson.
The Wood family is overwhelmingly thankful to be a part
of this project and to be chosen for a home that will be spacious enough for
them and their three children.
Wood’s deployment, he attended counseling at the veteran’s center. Throughout
counseling Wood explained his current living situation, which is when the
counselor informed him about the veteran housing center. He contacted Habitat for
Humanity where he applied to be a recipient of a new home. The family went
through an extensive background check and multiple interviews. After acceptance,
the couple must also complete 250 hours each, helping build other houses.
will have enough space for our three children,” said Wood. “At first, we thought it was too good to be
true, but we are very grateful.”