Hundred-plus Teens Lend Hands to Habitat Project

The Cody Stake of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was out to make a difference in the Habitat subdivision. "We host an annual youth conference for the stake," Scott Shoopman said. "We thought this would be a great way for the teens to help the community."

The stake includes churches in Cody, Powell and Burlington. Shoopman is the Young Men's President and Sandra Harker is the Young Women's President. The leaders decided to have the 106 teens attending help at the east Cody subdivision. "I've been involved with Habitat through my business," said Shoopman, who owns Smooth Edge Custom cabinets. "This is a good project." The teens were helping with the siding, painting and flooring of the home of David and Amber Kelsey. They were also helping landscape and floor Habitat's office and resource building on the property. "They've been planning this since March and it's a big production," Amber Kelsey said. "We've been putting in nine-hour days because we were about a week behind. "We had some things happen where people didn't show up," she added. "So it was just the family. This is a big help."

Habitat executive director Kenny Lee said the help was a boost to the subdivision. "Everyone involved in construction is so busy," he said. "We have been waiting to get the landscaping done - I'm ready to get into my office." Lee shared with the teens how important Habitat is to the community. "Habitat is the 16th largest builder in the nation," he said. "As you work today check your watch because every 21 minutes a Habitat home is finished somewhere in the world. "What you are doing is so important," he added. "This is really God's business you are helping expand."

Construction manager Rod Adams shuffled the various teams around the site. "We'll be putting down weed fabric, planting shrubs and some concrete work"' he said. "We can't plant the sod because it's under six inches of water in Billings. "I want everyone to have fun rather than worry about how much work we get done," he added. "I want everyone to have an introduction to Habitat and how important it is." Amber Kelsey and Lee talked about what Habitat means to the community. "When we started looking we couldn't find anything to move into," Kelsey said. "There were some trailers for $80,000 and an $850 monthly payment, but they still needed so much work. "We had decided to stay in our apartment because we didn't know if we'd qualify for Habitat," she added. "But we did because they were having trouble finding applicants they could work with."

Lee said the rising costs of homes make Habitat's work needed so much more. "I read where the median price of homes in Powell is $160,000," he said. "We need to have some options available for people because so many people working in Cody and Powell can't afford that. For the teens, this was part of a bigger event.

In addition to the work, they also had a game period, fireside chat about the day's work and a dance. "The dance theme was the 1950s," Shoopman said, and people brought classic cars to the church for a dance in the parking lot." But the community project is the most important aspect. "We want them to be involved and this is perfect" Shoopman said. "Habitat is a great organization and the combination builds good, young adults. "They are learning what it takes to be great leaders," he added. "And this is how we want young people to behave."

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