Geneva College
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Several of the 60-some Geneva employees who pitched in July 31 finish putting siding on the house.

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Pictured left to right at the home-building site are Tiger Pause Director Matt Nance, State Rep. Jim Marshall, Beaver Falls Mayor Karl Boak and Dr. John H. White (Geneva College president emeritus). 

Beaver Falls resident Gail Smith was walking her dog last Tuesday when she came across a sight that made her wonder if Extreme Makeover crews were in town.

She had noticed a foundation for a new house in her neighborhood the day before. But now a whole three-bedroom home was taking shape there—in a matter of hours. All the walls were in, the siding was almost complete and roof trusses were reaching skyward.

“I walked down and I saw all these people working,” Smith said. “I think the community would be so proud that they're doing this.”

Roughly 100 volunteers offered both skilled and not-so-skilled labor the week of July 31 to Aug. 4 in a community effort to build an affordable home for a family in need—in just one week. The numbers swelled on Tuesday, July 31, the first day of the project, with about sixty Geneva College employees pitching in. College officials gave fulltime employees the option of spending the workday at the construction site instead of the office.

The motley collection of volunteers was effectively organized by faith-based Hosanna Ministries into a productive team that managed to complete the framing, wiring, ducts, insulation, siding and more in about eight hours.

“I've read about [Hosanna] and heard about them, but it’s the first time I've been here to witness it,” said Beaver Falls Mayor Karl Boak, who was among those pitching in Tuesday. “Everyone has a job to do, and it’s just that quick. They call it a ‘blitz’ home, and that’s exactly what it is.”

While the house-building itself spans only a week, the vision behind the project has been much longer in the making, according to Dr. John H. White, president emeritus of Geneva College and the spokesman for the Beaver Falls Housing Coalition.

“The dream began a year ago, birthed by Del Goedeker [of McDanel Advanced Ceramic Technologies and the Goedeker Foundation],” White said. “It’s a thrill to see the cooperation and then to see the potential.”

Three additional families are currently undergoing counseling to become qualified for Hosanna homes, White said. The project’s partners are hopeful that two more homes will be built in the next six months for families of low income but good credit scores.

Pennsylvania State Rep. Jim Marshall (R-Big Beaver) compared the project to a barn-raising and said it’s “amazing to see what you can do with volunteers.”

“These people are just working for the glory of God, not for any self interest,” Marshall said. “It’s good that the people down here see that somebody cares about their community, and if we didn't see hope for this community we wouldn't build houses here...It’s a new breath of life for this community. Hopefully this will be a catalyst for more things to come.”

Key minds and supporters behind the project include Tiger Pause, Hosanna Ministries, Sky Bank, the City of Beaver Falls, Geneva College, Community College of Beaver County, the Goedeker Foundation, McDanel Advanced Ceramic Technologies, Turbo Technologies, Widmer Engineering, Homer 9, the Beaver Initiative for Growth, the Beaver Falls Housing Coalition and volunteers from area churches.

The single mother who moved into the home with her children at the end of the week assumed the mortgage on Wednesday, Aug. 1.

“I'm hoping I get to meet all of them,” said Smith, who lives just a block away. “I'm sure I will.”

See more photos in our photo album

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Roughly 100 volunteers listen as Hosanna Ministries staff members remind them of the “three S’s” to start the day: safety, sensitivity and spirit.


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