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Helping a family's dream become reality

SFC Habitat for Humanity Executive Director Linda Dickerson-Bell tells the Desloge Chamber of Commerce that the organization is currently building their first home in the city of Desloge. 

During the regular monthly meeting of the Desloge Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday, members were given information on the Habitat for Humanity program in St. Francois County.

St. Francois County Habitat for Humanity Executive Director Linda Dickerson-Bell provided the chamber with information on the organization and the work they are currently doing in the county. Dickerson-Bell said she is most excited right now that the organization is building their very first home in the city of Desloge at 203 N. Grant Street.

Habitat has provided services to St. Francois County since it was established here in 1998.

Dickerson-Bell said that houses built by Habitat range from $90,000 to $115,000 and she reminded members of the chamber that the houses are not free to their new owners but are affordable.

“Habitat families must be good stewards of their money, have a stable income, have a decent credit rating, and have the ability to make their mortgage payments,” said Dickerson-Bell.

Habitat for Humanity has partnered with First State Community Bank and New Era Bank to take care of the lending needs. Dickerson-Bell said she used to make the decisions on applicants, but has now turned that decision over to the local banks.

One of the most critical things that a family has to do to qualify for a home, according to Dickerson-Bell, is to have a willingness to partner with the agency. Families are required to make a $500 down payment on their home and must put in 500 hours of work toward their home or for the organization.

An addition to the organization is the ReStore, now located in the old Shopper’s Paradise/Poppa Don’s building at 4602 U.S. Highway 67 between Park Hills and Farmington. The store is 100 percent volunteer-staffed and all proceeds go to Habitat for Humanity in St. Francois County. In 2018, the store brought in $16,000 for the organization. Because they depend on volunteers, store hours vary, so individuals can call 573-747-1305 to make sure the store is open before driving out.   

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The store sells new and used items that have been donated. Dickerson-Bell said that they sell everything from toilets to laminate flooring and even car parts. The store does not take or sell clothing or mattresses.

Dickerson-Bell reminded chamber members that the organization is a faith-based program and that all monies given in St. Francois County stay in the county. The organization can always use people to come out and volunteer. Individuals must be age 16 or over to volunteer and are required to sign a waiver prior to working. Children under 16 can work at a site but must be accompanied and supervised by a parent or guardian.

“God answered a prayer for me about a month ago,” said Dickerson-Bell. “I had always wanted to get a school involved in our work.”

Dickerson-Bell said that just out of nowhere she was contacted by the Farmington School District about having a group of kids volunteer. In May, the district sent out 50 kids every Monday to work on a house being built in Farmington. The district plans to continue the volunteer work when the new school year begins in August.

Dickerson-Bell said that as of now, Habitat has built 224 homes in St. Francois County.

“Come out and volunteer to help us even if just for a day,” said Dickerson-Bell. “It will change your life!”

Anyone wishing to volunteer or make a donation can call 573-760-1702.

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Matt McFarland is a reporter for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at 573-518-3616, or at mmcfarland@dailyjournalonline.com.

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