Labor of love

Becky Vargo • May 12, 2017 at 11:00 AM

Cindy Marinko hauled boards across the deck of a house under construction at 1317 Columbus Ave. Thursday morning, the buzz of a saw and pound of a nail gun sounding in the background.

She and several other volunteers were participating in National Women’s Build Week for Habitat for Humanity — a partnership with Lowe’s Home Improvement.

But this volunteer has a little more at stake.

A year ago, Marinko applied with the Tri-Cities Habitat for Humanity to be considered for an affordable home for herself and two granddaughters, whom she adopted.

“It allows me to be able to purchase a home with a low down payment, decent monthly payment and zero interest,” the Grand Haven woman said.

She adjusted her hard hat and returned to her work.

As an accepted applicant, Marinko is required to perform 200 hours of labor on site and at the Habitat for Humanity Restore.

Friends and family can contribute some of those hours, Beth Hanis, Tri-Cities Habitat for Humanity director, said. Some of those hours can be done on other homes.

Marinko could end up in the Columbus Avenue home, or in a Meadows Street home in Grand Haven Township that was just returned to the organization. 

The family who moved into that home a year ago is moving to Florida for medical reasons, noted Hanis. 

The local organization is also finishing the remodel of a home at 1134 Fulton St.

Hanis said it’s been a busy year for Habitat since the organization only does two builds per year.

The house on Columbus Avenue serves as a milestone for the local organization, as it’s the 60th home completed in the Tri-Cities since work started in 1989, Hanis said.

It’s also part of a milestone for Lowe’s because they will have engaged 100,000 women in all 50 states on the builds since partnering with National Habitat for Humanity in 2008.

Lowe’s donated $2 million toward this year’s projects, with each selected project getting $5,000 worth of building materials, said Hanis.

“We’re very grateful for the partnership,” she said. “Some years you don’t get picked, but we do it anyway.”

The rest of the money is raised in the community through material and financial donations. Most of the work is done via volunteers who are supervised by the organization’s construction manager, Pat Twa. 

Many of the women working this week had to be taught how to use power tools. 

Twa was right there making sure everything was done safe and right the first time.

Marinko said the biggest lesson she’s learned from her experience is “to make things level or it’s going to make a lot of work for us.”

Development Manager Vicki Coulson said Tri-Cities Habitat for Humanity purchased the empty lot and started the build earlier this spring.

There’s no set timeline for any of the work to be completed because it all depends on the volunteer availability, she said. It also depends on the money available to purchase supplies.

But when it’s all done, it will be a three-bedroom, one-bathroom home with a full basement. 

The organization doesn’t build garages because they are trying to keep the costs down.

How to apply for a home

The application process is closed until next spring, but anyone interested in applying should call or stop by the Habitat for Humanity office at 600 S. Beacon Blvd., Suite C, and provide their name and telephone number. Applicants also need to make sure they keep their contact information updated.

Interested applicants can also call 846-1505.

How to volunteer

Call or stop by the office, or go online to http://www.tricitieshabitat.org/volunteer/, where you’ll find information on safety, liability forms and a volunteer information form.

Volunteers are welcome to sign up to work on the current build.

How to donate 

The online donation button is temporarily not working, so Hanis said donations could be made by stopping at the office or sending a check to Tri-Cities Habitat for Humanity, P.O. Box 707, Grand Haven, MI 49417.

June 15 fundraiser: Hops 4 Homes 

The Hops 4 Homes craft beer tasting event is set for 5-8 p.m. Thursday, June 15, at the Grand Haven Golf Club, 17000 Lincoln St.

Tickets are $30 each, or two for $50. The price includes eight tastings, hors d’oeuvres and live music. Tickets may be purchased at the Tri-Cities Habitat for Humanity office or at the door of the event.

There will also be a silent auction.


The Habitat for Humanity Restore, located at 408 N. Ferry St. in Grand Haven, takes donations of recycled building materials and household items, resells them and uses the money to fund building projects. Store hours are: Monday-Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and Saturday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Ottawa County statistics

Ottawa County has an estimated 529 homeless families. Children of homeowners are 25 percent more likely to graduate from high school and 116 percent more likely to graduate from college than children of renters.

Through the donated time, hard work and resources of many in the community, Habitat homes are built at low cost and sold to the partner families without profit or interest.

Partner families must make a $500 down payment and complete 250-500 hours of “sweat equity” before they can move into their home. Habitat provides a variety of supportive services to families to ease their transition to home ownership.

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