Building a future

By Marc Strauss

August 28, 2010 Updated Aug 28, 2010 at 6:39 PM CST

The dream of owning a home is about to become a reality for a single mother from Bloomington. It's all thanks to some dedicated college students and Habitat for Humanity.

A Habitat for Humanity groundbreaking on Saturday marks the construction of a new home for Susan Giermann and her 2 1/2 year-old son Xavier.

The work is well underway and Susan is right in the middle of it.

"It's a whole different sense of pride and ownership," said Giermann, who works as a waitress.

"I put the work into this so I don't want to see anything go wrong. The love builds the house and I'm going to have a total sense of ownership for the rest of my life as long as I live here."

The Giermann's first home is being built by students for Illinois State and Illinois Wesleyan universities. Their's is the 17th Habitat home that the local collegiate chapter has constructed since 1995.

"We built two last year," said Cameron Simpson, an ISU student and president of that school's Habitat for Humanity organization.

"We've usually only built one each year so we really set the bar high last year. We keep moving forward and we're building our 17th house. it's a huge accomplishment."

The work of the ISU and Wesleyan students isn't just appreciated by Susan Giermann and her son. They've also been recognized nationally as the Habitat for Humanity Campus Chapter of the Year.

"Almost every Saturday during the school year they come out and build from 7:45 in the morning until 12 noon," said Tom Gerschick, co-adviser to the ISU student chapter.

"In that time they construct a house. And they do all of the work with the exception of the work that the skilled trades do."

Joanna Baffes is a member of the Illinois Wesleyan student chapter of Habitat. She enjoys the satisfaction of what a group of people can accomplish if they are all focused on the same goal.

"It's a collaboration, people coming together just for one cause," said Baffes. "We forget about whose from ISU and whose from Illinois Wesleyan. We're all one people building together."

Susan and Xavier hope to move into their new home next spring. Until then there's work to be done.