Panel build

Volunteers from Habitat for Humanity and the TenPoint Coalition work on building a panel for a new Habitat for Humanity home. Pastor Lewis King said volunteers came from TenPoint’s partners.

Fort Wayne United’s TenPoint Coalition has worked with Habitat for Humanity of Greater Fort Wayne for about four years.

The partnership has continued to grow – and doesn’t look like it’s stopping anytime soon.

“It just seemed like a natural fit for us to partner alongside the good work that the TenPoint Coalition does in this footprint of the Oxford area,” said Jeremy McClish, Habitat for Humanity COO. “I don’t see an end in sight. … It’s just strengthening the community.”

Friday morning, about 100 volunteers from the two organizations met at Weisser Park Elementary School to build the panel and walls for a new house. The house will be in the Oxford community, which is what the TenPoint Coalition serves, Pastor Lewis King said.

“We’re going to adopt the family that is getting the home,” King said. “We’ve already partnered with Habitat. … We want to help them get the things they need to get this home.”

Friday’s volunteers came from Habitat for Humanity, churches and other organizations the TenPoint Coalition has built relationships with. There were also members of partner families working on the hours of sweat equity they must complete to receive a home through Habitat.

“It’s amazing that (this group) is made up of people in the community who want to serve,” King said. “There were many more people who wanted to support the work. … People believe in the work of the TenPoint Coalition.”

The organization was created in the fall of 2018 under the umbrella of Fort Wayne United, said King, who coordinates the TenPoint Coalition. The group works in the Oxford community, engaging members to reduce crime and violence in the area.

King said the group is most focused on engaging with Black men and boys ages 10 to 24 and has seen a reduction in crime and improved relationships with residents since its founding.

Susan Rassette, 52, and Lily Rassette, 16, volunteered through the TenPoint Coalition at the panel build. The two had been looking for volunteer opportunities, Susan Rassette said, and heard about the project through their church, The Chapel.

They said they think it’s important to volunteer and help the community.

They were tasked with building a wall for Habitat’s new home, and Susan Rassette said they would both “definitely come back” to help the two organizations again.

“I hadn’t built a wall before,” Lily Rassette said. “I felt accomplished.”

Kaila Manley, 29, and Myka Blunt, 31, are members of Habitat for Humanity’s partner families and are working on their volunteer hours.

It was Manley’s first experience, and she said by the end of the day, she would have logged eight of her required 250 hours.

It was Blunt’s second time volunteering, and by the end of the day, she would be at 14 hours.

Like the Rassettes, Manley and Blunt helped build the walls for the new home. They arrived at 8 a.m.

“We’re used to this for our work schedule,” Manley said. “It wasn’t much of a difference, honestly. It’s just like a normal workday.”

The two have enjoyed their experiences with Habitat for Humanity.

“There’s no dull moment or awkward moment,” Blunt said. “Everybody’s really friendly. … It’s really fun, and everyone is really open and inviting.”

While most of Friday’s volunteers worked on walls and frames, Landis Kelsaw with the TenPoint Coalition focused on directing people where to go and making sure everything ran smoothly. He has been involved with the organization for four years and said his experience has been terrific.

“Getting out and engaging with the community, getting out and getting resources – it’s just always fulfilling being out here,” he said.

Kelsaw enjoyed seeing volunteers working at the panel build, and he thinks the future homeowners are going to love the home once it’s completed.

“It’s a blessing,” he said. “Until you become a part of this, you don’t know the magnitude of it. This is just great.”

Intern - Summer 2022

Maya Wilkins is a Pulliam intern through the Hoosier State Press Association. She is a Ball State University student. She has previously covered the Fort Wayne area with The News-Sentinel and Fort Wayne Magazine.