Habitat for Humanity, Alliant Energy join forces to build home

82 volunteers help construct walls for Cedar Rapids house

Ben Boesenberg, line mechanic (front right) participates in the panel build at Alliant Energy Operations Center in Cedar Rapids with fellow line mechanics Jeff Squires (back right) and Aaron Luetdke (left) on Wednesday, Aug. 31., 2016. Alliant Energy partnered with the Cedar Valley Habitat for Humanity to conduct the first ever panel build in Cedar Rapids, which will be used for a Habitat home. (Michaela Ramm/The Gazette)
Ben Boesenberg, line mechanic (front right) participates in the panel build at Alliant Energy Operations Center in Cedar Rapids with fellow line mechanics Jeff Squires (back right) and Aaron Luetdke (left) on Wednesday, Aug. 31., 2016. Alliant Energy partnered with the Cedar Valley Habitat for Humanity to conduct the first ever panel build in Cedar Rapids, which will be used for a Habitat home. (Michaela Ramm/The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS — As a single mom, Bridget Wilcox understands the importance of having a house where she can raise her family.

“I feel it’s my job to provide a place where they always feel welcome and can be safe,” she said.

Wilcox got some help in that category on Wednesday as 82 volunteers from Alliant Energy worked in shifts at the company’s Operations Center in Cedar Rapids constructing the walls that soon are to form a new Habitat for Humanity home on 20th Avenue SW.

“It’s unbelievable,” said Wilcox, who is to move into the home with her 17-year-old son Cordell later this year. “It’s just happening so fast. There are so many generous people here.”

The home, the last of six being built this year by Cedar Valley Habitat for Humanity, is being funded in part by a $15,000 donation from the Alliant Energy Foundation.

Julie Bauer, executive director of the foundation, said the project fits perfectly into one arm of the organization’s three-pronged focus — helping families, education and the environment.

“This definitely falls under our (helping families) focus,” she said.

Wilcox, who also has two daughters — Arianna, 23, and Sierra, 21 — said the house provides the family an environment that cannot be matched by a rental property, like space that allows her daughters to visit and a place where holiday memories can be made.

Wilcox said she applied to Cedar Valley Habitat in November and was selected to receive a home in December. She expects to move in by Christmas.

Wednesday’s event is significant because it marks the first time in Cedar Rapids that a Habitat for Humanity home has been built off site in sections that eventually are to be transported to the actual building site.

Habitat for Humanity officials call it a “panel build.”

The raising of the walls is expected to take place the weekend of Sept. 17, said Patti Kunz, director of development for Cedar Valley Habitat.

Additionally, the project is a “women’s build,” which means it’s a Habitat project that encourages women to participate in the building process.

Rick Kullander, a board member for Cedar Valley Habitat who works as a real estate and right of way representative for Alliant Energy, was among a small group that traveled to Madison, Wisconsin, in June to witness a panel build and bring tips back to Iowa.

“It’s a no-brainer,” Kullander said. “It’s a way for us to help people who want to help themselves.”

Cedar Valley Habitat for Humanity has partnered with Alliant Energy for about four years. So far, the partnership has been beneficial to both entities. When Alliant employees come to a Habitat work site, Kunz said “they bring everything,” including trucks and lifts.

“I love it,” said Jeff Squires, a line mechanic at Alliant, on volunteering to benefit Habitat for Humanity. “It’s great that we can help someone when they need it.

“It’s a great feeling.”

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