Father Ron Margherio got involved in Habitat for Humanity through his role at St. Bede Academy helping coordinate service projects.
He volunteered and regularly brought students to Habitat’s current project in Ottawa.
Margherio also invited his brother, Dave, to volunteer.
After the brothers saw the impact of Habitat in Ottawa, they wanted to bring the organization to their hometown of Ladd.
The brothers organized a meeting to generate community interest, and soon fundraising began.
The community’s efforts caught the attention of the board of directors for Habitat for Humanity of La Salle, Bureau and Putnam Counties.
On Sunday at Memorial Park in Ladd, Sally M. Van Cura, executive director of Habitat for Humanity of La Salle, Bureau and Putnam Counties, announced Ladd would be the site of the organization’s next project.
“I think it means community involvement,” Dave Margherio said. “A few years back we lost our church, so we lost a little bit of our togetherness. I’ve had a lot of people talk to me already, and they really want to get involved with the project. The whole community – all 1,300 people – will get involved.
“I’m looking forward to seeing something physical rise from the ground in our little town.”
With the project now official, all that’s needed is a lot.
A portion of Sunday’s meeting was spent discussing the best way to acquire a lot so the project can move forward.
Anyone in Ladd willing to donate or sell a lot is asked to call the Habitat office at 815-434-2041.
“It always comes back to the lot,” Dave Margherio said during the meeting. “We’ve been pursuing it. I think some people are nervous about what kind of build it will be. They think it’s low-income housing. It’s going to be a nice house.
“One way or another, it’s going to happen in Ladd. It it’s not donated, we’ll pursue paying.”
Board member Tom Pigati said the biggest misconception is the home is simply given away. He stressed the people who get the home will be employed, be able to pay a mortgage and also help build it themselves.
“I think there’s some ignorance about what kind of house it will be,” Father Ron Margherio said. “Our job right now is to be PR people. We have to show them pictures [of other Habitat homes] and talk about what we’re looking for and what it can do for the community.”
Aside from acquiring the lot, the Ladd project is in good shape with plenty of community involvement, a strong fundraising effort that already has raised nearly $14,000 and pledges to donate a variety of equipment and services for the build, including rental equipment, landscaping, excavating, electric, floors and a furnace.
That early support is what drew the local Habitat organization to Ladd.
“It was great. During a volunteer, the two brothers said, ‘We want this for our town,’ ” Van Cura said. “They set up a meeting for me to talk to the community, and everybody showed up. We put out maybe 30 chairs and we kept adding chairs. I started talking about Habitat and the build and what it means to the community, and while I was talking people kept raising their hand saying they wanted to be involved. You don’t get that from communities. This is a close-knit community. They started their own fundraiser called Club Ladd 89. In order to be a member, you had to donate $89. So far it’s raised over $13,000. Usually communities don’t raise funds. We have to do fundraisers. They stepped forward because they wanted it in their town.”
Once the lot is secured, the process will begin to find a family. The family will be someone from Bureau County.
After selecting the family, the plan for the house will be formulated.
A committee has been formed that will meet the third Tuesday of every month starting July 21.
“I’m real excited to make Ladd our next build,” Van Cura said. “Of course, we need to get that lot. It’s a great community, and they’ll be working very closely with Habitat for this build. Hopefully, we’ll get this done quickly to give a family a home ownership opportunity.”