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Veteran, family appreciate new Habitat for Humanity home

Joplin Globe - 9/22/2022

Sep. 22—U.S. Marine Corps veteran Charles Timothy Peay, of Joplin, said his heart was extremely full and that he couldn't stop smiling during the dedication event Wednesday marking the completion of his family's first home.

Peay will be moving in with his wife, Karen, and their 4-year-old son, Tim Jr., this fall. The three-bedroom, two-bathroom house features a one-car garage and a storm shelter.

Ground was broken on the house last November and officially dedicated on Veterans Day. Peay, who served in the Marines from 1989 to 1991, was in Operation Desert Storm. The home is part of the Joplin Area Habitat for Humanity's Veterans Build program, which provides volunteer and homeownership opportunities to veterans, military service members and their families.

The Peay family was involved with the homebuilding process since the beginning and put in sweat equity hours to help construct it with volunteers from the community and area businesses. Peay said he can feel the love from everyone who helped with the build whenever he steps through the front door.

"Every time I walk through the house, I think about the autographs, the signatures and love statements," he said. "I don't think there was one wall in there that didn't have 'The house that love built' written on it. I truly do feel that this was the house that love built."

Ted Donaldson, co-founder and director of Compass Quest Veterans Advocacy Group, also served in combat in Operation Desert Storm during his time in the U.S. Air Force. Compass Quest is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization that provides veterans and their families connections to available services and support within the community.

During the dedication, Donaldson said it was a great opportunity for the organization to partner with Joplin Area Habitat for Humanity on the construction project and to form a bond with a fellow Desert Storm veteran. He said that he first met Peay during the dedication ceremony for the house.

"The first thing that struck me about Tim was his smile," Donaldson said. "He's always happy, positive, affable, and he's grateful. He doesn't take anything for granted."

Peay said that he had difficulties returning back to civilian life after facing combat and took classes at Franklin Technology Center in Joplin to keep his mind off his post-traumatic stress disorder. Although he was in a really dark place, Peay said, he made connections with Joplin Area Habitat for Humanity, and it has changed his life for the better.

Speaking about Scott Clayton, executive director of Joplin Area Habitat for Humanity, Peay said, "We've talked a lot about everyday life situations, about what we can do and what we can't do. I just gained a really nice friend. Most of my blood family is out of town and all over the state. I can truly say today that I got adopted by the Habitat family, and I'm here for life."

Clayton said he was thankful for what Peay had to say about their friendship, and he's thrilled to see the Peay family settle into the new home.

"I love hearing their message of appreciation, and just getting to know Tim from the whole process, all and everything in between, it's been an honor to work with him on this project and form a friend as well," he said.

Sam Bremmerkamp with General Mills presented the family with the keys of the new home in the 2100 block of South Empire Avenue during Wednesday's dedication. General Mills donated $50,000 toward the build. Karen Peay said they plan to move in before Oct. 1, and she's already planning future holiday events.

"This will be our first Thanksgiving and our first Christmas in our house," she said excitedly.

The project is the Joplin Area Habitat for Humanity's first home built using insulated concrete forms, a construction method that uses hollow blocks that are filled with cement to create concrete walls. The forms are resilient, sustainable, energy-efficient and cost-effective. It can also hold up to extreme weather and helps reduce outside noise.

The Joplin Area Habitat for Humanity partnered with the National Ready Mixed Concrete Association's Build With Strong Coalition to construct the house using the forms. Gregg Lewis, executive vice president of strategy at NRMCA, said they're also working with Habitat for Humanity International and on the national level to build homes with insulated concrete forms.

"We will have underway, by the end of this calendar year, 47 concrete and ICF Habitat for Humanity homes in 27 states," he said.

Peay said he hopes this encourages other homeowners and construction companies to construct their next home using insulated concrete forms.

"I'd like to see other construction companies that do housing around here take note of what's going on and use ICFs to make it a safer place for the Joplin community," he said.

Clayton said the Habitat organization has started the foundation for its second house with insulated concrete forms, in Oronogo.


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