Brandi and Rob Perry (right) participate in groundbreaking for their Habitat for Humanity home on South Elm Street in Carroll. Aso participating are Allie Cooper, the Perrys’ sponsor assisting them through preparation of becoming homeowners, and site supervisor Ken Ahrenholtz.
Brandi and Rob Perry (right) participate in groundbreaking for their Habitat for Humanity home on South Elm Street in Carroll. Aso participating are Allie Cooper, the Perrys’ sponsor assisting them through preparation of becoming homeowners, and site supervisor Ken Ahrenholtz.
March 29, 2013

It's the cold truth. Members of the Habitat for Humanity West Central Iowa Affiliate are determined and dedicated.

They showed that Monday night at groundbreaking for the affiliate's 15th home-building project since it began in 1999 and fifth in Carroll.

Frozen ground and patches of snow required some improvisation for Monday's ceremony on the future site of the new home in a cul dec sac on the north end of South Elm Street.

Habitat affiliate president Dan Renneke provided a bucket full of fresh dirt - collected from a badger mound north of town - in order for the family selected to receive the new home, Rob and Brandi Perry of Carroll, to turn the first shovels. The Rev. Cindy Johnson, new pastor at St. John Lutheran Church in Carroll, read selections from Scripture and led the prayers of blessing. Members of the Habitat board and well-wishers were on hand for the brief ceremony. Although, they braved the elements, everyone made quick retreat from the icy wind to their vehicles immediately afterward.

In the prayer, Johnson said, "Blessed are you, O Lord, our God ... may this home be a place where your presence dwells and where your way is followed. May your gracious blessings descend like dew from heaven upon this place and upon Rob, Brandi and their family who will live here. You have given us joy in a work begun in your name; may you bless the construction phases soon to begin."

Renneke says construction should begin in April on the ranch-style, three-bedroom home with a porch across the front. The stick-built home will be finished with vinyl siding, with the Perrys selecting a color later. The home will have a bathroom upstairs and a full basement. Habitat families receive $1,000 to do something additional with their homes, and Renneke says many families choose also to complete a bathroom downstairs. Habitat does not build garages onto homes, however, families may decide to have footings put in for a garage that they can build later. The Perrys' home will be built on a pie-shaped lot, 80 feet wide in front, 50 feet wide in back and 115 feet deep.

Before taking part in the groundbreaking, Rob Perry raved about quality of life and hospitality in Carroll.

Rob, 33, and Brandi, 24, both work for New Hope - Rob as a residential supervisor on the 18th Street campus and Brandi as a support staff member in a community home. They had been commuting to work from Farnhamville, in southeast Calhoun County, before moving to Carroll. They currently rent a home on Fifth and Clark streets. The Perrys have a 4-year-old daughter, Jamie, who's a preschooler at Fairview Elementary, and a 2-year-old son, Kaden. Rob is also dad and Brandi stepmom to 10-year-old Taylor, who's a fifth-grader in Des Moines, and she stays with them every other weekend.

Rob says, "To actually own a home and partake in the building process is going to be an experience all its own that we're excited for. Not to mention that we love Carroll. It's been a great community. We've come here to open arms, and it's a really conducive place to raise a family."

Rob says the family has enjoyed everyone's friendliness and the comfortable lifestyle in Carroll.

Plus, he says, the short drive to work is nice.

In the Des Moines area, he says, "You may commute for seven miles, and it takes you 35 minutes to get there. I love that I'm close to my work. I love that I get to see the people I work with and work for out in the community. Carroll people are just involved in the community in every way."

Rob acknowledges that through his and Brandi's work they get to see a best picture of Carroll through the community's support of New Hope.

"The environment and the way the community is involved are amazing," he says. "You wouldn't see the open arms that the clients of New Hope get here down in Des Moines. Here, you see a lot of the community members interact with New Hope clients. It's so touching. And to be a part of that process and be a part of that experience is so rewarding."

Rob, a native of Altoona, graduated from Southeast Polk High School in Runnels in 1997 and received a bachelor's degree in education from Drake University in Des Moines in 2001. Brandi, a Rockwell City native, graduated from Rockwell City-Lytton High School in 2006 and studied business at AIB and Kaplan University in Des Moines.

Habitat for Humanity says on its website that it's a "nonprofit, ecumenical Christian ministry founded on the conviction that every man, woman and child should have a decent, safe and affordable place to live."

Habitat homes are built by volunteers under trained supervision.

Habitat families receive interest-free loans, however, they must put "sweat equity" into the construction.

Looking forward to work on his family's home, Rob says, "I'll learn a lot while building it. I'll know every square inch of the home from the foundation to the shingles."

Habitat affiliate president Renneke says the home builds in Carroll have received outstanding turnout of volunteers.

When construction starts, probably in mid-April, Renneke says, work will be done from about 5 to 8 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays and from about 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays.

All volunteers are welcome.

"It's an opportunity for everybody to come out," he says. "We don't care if they can swing a hammer or not. We'll teach them whatever they need to know. And we have a lot of fun when we build. Everybody kind of jokes around with each other, but we get a lot done in a day."

Volunteers can show up on site or contact Renneke beforehand at 830-2121.

"We always have great help in Carroll," he says. "We always have a lot of people come out and help. That's always neat."

The project will get a big boost when more than 30 participants on one of Bike and Build's cross-country bicycle rides arrives in Carroll on July 14 and puts in a work day on the home July 15. The Bike and Build participation is open to young adults ages 18 through 25, and the program assists affordable-housing efforts through fundraising and volunteer work. The riders stopping in Carroll will be starting at Providence, R.I., and traveling to Seattle, Wash. Bike and Build has helped with several other West Central Iowa Habitat projects, including last year's build in Manning.

The West Central Iowa Habitat affiliate, which serves Carroll, Audubon, Crawford and Shelby counties, has built four homes in Carroll - including one in 2008 at 219 S. Elm St., across the street from the new site - four in Harlan, two each in Manning and Denison, and one each in Glidden and Audubon.

Jody Jones of Carroll, who has served on the affiliate's Family Selection Committee since the organization's start in 1999, says of the Perrys, "They're a nice family, and they have a need. They're real interested in cooperating with us, and that's real important. They've been excited about every step."

When it comes to excitement, Rob says, the family's children appear to be the most eager for the new home.

"We know it's October before it's feasibly done," he says, "but they're ready tomorrow."

Rob says of Monday's groundbreaking, "It was a little cool, but it was definitely well worth it."