Unions join missionaries to build family a home

IBEW 309 RETIREE Bill Hagene (left) meets with missionaries Ronny and Marcella Morris at the house they are helping to build in Smithton with the help of many other union volunteers. – Labor Tribune photo

Smithton, IL – Metro East union locals are helping a pair of missionaries build a house in Smithton (south of Belleville) for a mother of three whose husband recently died of cancer.

The family’s original house had become infested with termites and mold, but the mother, who is working on a college degree, couldn’t get a home loan. She got hold of Ronny and Marcella Morris, who were just back from a mission to Tibet. They operate under the title King’s Kids Colorado and have a website at www.kkcolorado.org.

Ronny Morris decided it would make more sense to just tear down the old house and rebuild. Using his own skills and friends, he got the basic structure together. Some Amish craftsmen helped.

“She’d about lost hope. I just started calling people,” Morris said at the work site last week. The house has three bedrooms in about 1,000 square feet in one story and a crawl space, at the mother’s request, although Morris was willing to make it more.

One of the daughters knew about the IBEW Local 309 retirees group led by Bill Hagene that has become known for its many volunteer projects and asked if they could help.

“There was no going back,” Hagene said of the house. “I knew my group would want to do it.”

Local 309 kicked in $1,000 worth of supplies, and the retirees have been wiring up the new house.

In addition, Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 101 is taking care of the plumbing, and Sheet Metal Workers Local 268 is getting involved with the ductwork and furnace.

The home should be ready in time for Thanksgiving, and it has had a great effect on the mother.

“She’d been treading water, trying to manage on her own,” Hagene said. “She’s hopeful now.”



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