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Life Center builds Habitat home for a member

Building a Habitat house for a church member has drawn some members of Life Center Foursquare Church from the pews into volunteer community service.

Life Center Habitat builders
Life Center volunteers work on Habitat house

It’s part of acting on the church’s motto:  “Loving God, loving people,” said Randy Sylvia, men’s pastor and leader for outreach and recovery ministries.

He said the outreach focus began when senior pastor, the Rev. Joe Wittwer, realized members needed to be involved in the community so Life Center would have a visible impact on Spokane.

Life Center held its first Ministry Fair several years ago to introduce the nearly 2,500 people who attend its services Sundays to opportunities to volunteer with different parachurch organizations.  Now 4,000 to 5,000 attend and fairs are held twice a year.

Habitat for Humanity Spokane was among the organizations that involved individual members, but recent participation dropped. 

Three years ago Habitat asked Randy if Life Center would do a corporate build, co-sponsoring a house with several other churches in the community.  Life Center was in transition to its new building at 1202 N. Government Way, so the staff decided to wait.

Last year, they learned a family accepted by Habitat was a member of the congregation.

Habitat family
Benny and Reachal Gallagher help build their Habitat house

“We asked if the church would help build a house for Benny Gallagher and his daughter Reachal, now 18.  This time the answer was ‘yes.’  We decided to finance it ourselves,” Randy said.

In addition to members who have volunteered individually for Habitat, hundreds had the opportunity to sign up online to fill the building schedule slots for about 30 people a day.

One Sunday Benny shared his story, and the congregation donated most of the money they needed.  In addition, contractors in the congregation donated services for excavation, wiring and other construction.

Benny said that after he divorced in 2006 in Florida, he brought his daughter to live with his sister for a summer to move her from a neighborhood with drugs and sexual predators.  Reachal helped in her aunt’s preschool.  Benny decided to move to Spokane and has been living with his sister, a member at Life Center.

He began attending, saw a pamphlet on Habitat for Humanity and decided to apply, because there was not enough room in his sister’s house.

“I would never have thought of going up and speaking before more than a thousand people,” he said, astounded that the church raised $65,000 to fund the house.

In one week, the house exterior walls and roof were done.

“Without the church and without God, I would not be having a Habitat house,” said Benny who works for a clothing retail chain.

The 400 hours of sweat equity he and Reachal are doing include working on their house and other Habitat houses, gaining construction skills and meeting people.

“I’ve been learning about construction as I go along,” he said.

“I’ve been doing nailing,” said Reachal, who has enjoyed learning to do new things and meeting new people.

Habitat is one of several opportunities Life Center offers members for community service.

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