COLUMBIA, Mo. - "Building a house is a really tangible project-to see where you start and where you finish and to see that you've been able to accomplish something," said Jeanetta Baumer, a University of Missouri Extension 4-H member from Hartville, Mo.
Baumer and 10 other 4-H members from across the state spent the past year helping Show-Me Central Habitat for Humanity build a house. When they began, it was little more than a frame of two-by-fours on a concrete slab surrounded by bare soil. Now the house is finished, complete with a green lawn and flowers around the mailbox.
Members of 4-Habitat, who have been involved in the building process from start to finish, added their own special touches to the home. They began by meeting with homeowners Mat and Megan Chavez to discuss colors they liked and furnishings they might need. Then 4-H members worked with specialists from MU Extension Architectural Studies to come up with a design plan. The youth learned what makes a house both beautiful and functional, from selecting colors and fabrics to installing compact fluorescent lights and insulating the water heater for energy efficiency.
"We all worked together to paint the interior of the house, put the furnishings in, window treatments, the landscaping and the energy efficiency improvements inside," said Lisa Hamilton-Hill of MU Extension Architectural Studies.
The 4-Habitat group even put together a cookbook full of nutritious meal plans and shopping tips.
"The entire concept for the project is a total environment," Hamilton-Hill said. "Every aspect of their lives that we could think of that might be affected by the home they live in we've tried to cover with this project."
Megan Chavez said that her family enjoyed working with 4-Habitat and appreciates the little things they did to make the house special.
"Everything that they've done, we see it every day," Chavez said. "It's just a joy to wake up every morning in our house and see the colors on the wall and all the hard work that they've put into the house."
"This entire process has brought our family closer together as a whole," she said. "To be here, we finally feel like we've found our place."