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Pitching in for Habitat for Humanity

Josh Kahn visits Kahn employees working on Habitat homes.
While working on Habitat projects, contractors who volunteer still have to run their businesses. Here, Josh Kahn of Kahn Mechanical Contractors stays in touch while visiting Kahn employees helping install the HVAC systems in Habitat homes being constructed at the Texas Rangers baseball stadium.

Contractors, with the aid of wholesalers and manufacturers, are pitching in to aid the Habitat for Humanity Council of North Central Texas in providing houses for families who otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford them.

Contractors and their employees from the North Texas Chapter of the Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA) participated in the construction of two Habitat homes last November in the a parking lot of The Ballpark in Arlington, TX, home of the Texas Rangers Baseball Club. The two houses were built to draw attention to the Habitat movement, and were among 18 the group participated in building last year.

By providing and installing the HVAC systems for these homes, approximately $3,200 of the cost of each house went back into the kitty for the construction of additional homes. Participating in what was billed as the “Home Run House Doubleheader” with the HVAC contractors were Texas Rangers ballplayers. After construction in just five days, the two homes were moved to permanent locations in northern Texas. One traveling 100 miles, before it rested on its permanent foundation.

Employees of Kahn Mechanical Contractors, prepare to install a furnace in one of two Habitat for Humanity homes built in the parking lot of The Ball Park in Arlington, TX, home of the Texas Rangers baseball team.

Kahn employees install a furnace for a Habitat Home.
Employees of Kahn Mechanical Contractors, prepare to install a furnace in one of two Habitat for Humanity homes built in the parking lot of The Ball Park in Arlington, TX, home of the Texas Rangers baseball team.

The Home Run Doubleheader reunited a team that originated the homebuilding series at The Ballpark with the Federal Home Loan Bank Home Run House project in November 1999. Sponsors and contributors who joined the Rangers and the bank this year were: United Service Association For Health Care Foundation in Arlington, TX; the Home Depot; and a crew of home building and financial partners, including ACCA, Carrier Corp., Brandt Engineering, Heartland Building Supplies, ATCO Rubber Products, and the North Central Texas Permit Tech Chapter.

According to Habitat officials, a blitz build such as the Home Doubleheader requires a small army of volunteers in roles ranging from construction to meal coordination, site hosting, and material acquisition. An estimated 3,000 hours of volunteer labor was invested in the home building during 8.5 hours of daily building, and an equal number of hours were invested by project organizers in the course of six months’ work to set the stage for the build.

Habitat for Humanity makes the dream of homeownership available to lower-income, working families by building with volunteer labor and donations of materials and funds. Homeowners make an investment of sweat equity in their homes, working side-by-side with construction volunteers, then buy their houses at an affordable, interest- free mortgage. Their monthly house payments go into a revolving fund, the Fund for Humanity, and are reinvested in future home construction. Thus, a dollar invested in Habitat is a buck that never stops, but cycles and recycles through the organization.


Working under the umbrella of their Community Services Foundation, ACCA contractors volunteer to install HVAC systems in numerous Habitat for Humanity homes in north central Texas. Here Mike Stephens, president of S&S Air Conditioning in Dallas, installs ductwork in one of the "Doubleheader Homes" built in the Arlington, TX baseball stadium's parking lot.

The North Central Texas ACCA Chapter participates in Habitat for Humanity as one of the activities of its Community Services Foundation.

The foundation’s purpose is to improve the quality of life for elderly, disabled, low-income homeowners and community agencies that provide support services for people in crisis. The mission of the foundation “is to improve the living climate conditions of the elderly, disabled, and lowincome homeowners by providing safe, energy efficient air conditioning and heating equipment. In addition to Habitat, the group accomplishes its mission through three other programs: Heat the Town, Beat the Heat, and short-term community projects.

The foundation’s goal is to seek donations of equipment and labor in an effort to contain the cost of providing these services and maximize available dollars. Since the foundation can get part of the necessary equipment and labor donated, and the rest at cost, it’s able to achieve more bang for its buck.

According to Josh Kahn, vice president of Kahn Mechanical Contractors, Dallas, TX, the Community Services Foundation put HVAC system in 10 Habitat houses in 1999, 18 houses last year, and has a goal of 30 houses this year. All of the heating and air conditioning equipment for the homes the foundation worked on last year was provided by Carrier Corp. That donation came about after a conversation between Kahn and Tom Dodson of the Carrier distributorship in North Texas, during a dealer incentive trip. The distributor later spoke to Frank Hartman, then vice president and general manager of Carrier Residential/Light Commercial, and the donation was approved.

Glenn Geltemeyer of Carrier North Texas says most of the donated systems are 12 SEER heat pumps complete with thermal expansion valves and thermostats.“ They’re getting a pretty nice system,” he adds.

Geltemeyer says a lot of contractors were involved in the project, but not all of them were Carrier dealers, which presented something of a challenge when it came to installation specifications and dimensions of equipment. However, the Texas distributor reports there’s been a very cooperative attitude among everyone involved. There haven’t been any problems with the installations, which Geltemeyer attributes to the professionalism of the ACCA contractors.

Many companies participate in the construction of Habitat homes, according to Ann Chappell, president, Habitat for Humanity Council of North Central Texas. In addition to sponsoring the program, companies’ employees turn out, along with the future homeowners, to help construct the homes. Some employers use the opportunity for team building among their employees. According to Chappell, the work becomes the “Great Equalizer,” with employers working alongside their employees.

According to Kahn, some of the employees of the ACCA contractors who donate their time are paid, while others volunteer their time.

Chappell reports that, so far, 400 families are enjoying homes of their own thanks to the Habitat’s North Central Council and groups such as the many HVAC contractors in north central Texas who, along with their employees, have ensured those homes are comfortable for their proud, new owners.

 

 

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