Helping Habitat For Humanity

Ken Rodriguez is a San Antonio native who covered his first Spurs game in 1981 for The Daily Texan, the University of Texas student newspaper. He spent 26 years in the newspaper business -- 21 of them covering sports -- before joining the marketing department at Our Lady of the Lake University in 2009. His column will appear every Wednesday.

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Robert Delgado climbed down from his ladder Thursday morning and peered across the street at his handiwork. He pointed with pride at the pretty, blue-green roof on the house in the 8900 block of Shepherd's Way and smiled.

Last year, Delgado and a team of volunteers from Spurs Sports & Entertainment installed the roof on the residence in the Coleman Ridge subdivision, a community of homes built by Habitat for Humanity of San Antonio on the Southwest Side.

"God meant it for that family," said Delgado, a master electrician for SS&E. "What we were able to do to help people like that was a great thing."

Delgado is helping again. He and 250 volunteers from the Spurs, Rampage, Silver Stars, AT&T Center and Austin Toros arrived in Coleman Ridge to work on the construction of another 10 homes. Dressed in a white hard hat and a gray t-shirt emblazoned with the word POSSE (People of Spurs
Sports & Entertainment), Delgado came to install a second roof.

He also came to teach. He worked in the construction business for years -- one project included the AT&T Center -- before joining SS&E as an electrician five years ago. So he showed co-workers how to use a power drill and other tools. "I love to do that," he said.

Joining Delgado and SS&E employees were volunteers from the AT&T Center's arena partners: ARAMARK, Argus and Levy Restaurants. The workers spent the entire day constructing homes in Coleman Ridge, a 39-acre subdivision near the intersection of Old Pearsall Road and Loop 410.

To date, 66 homes have been completed in Coleman Ridge. Another 16 are in various stages of construction. When completed, the neighborhood under development by Habitat for Humanity of San Antonio will feature 185 homes.

Habitat for Humanity provides low-income homebuyers a 20-25 year, zero percent interest mortgage. Families spend at least 300 hours helping to build their own home and those of their neighbors. Their monthly payments -- taxes and insurance included -- average between $375 and $425. Habitat
reports a foreclosure rate of less than 2 percent.

When Harmony Schwethelm arrived at Coleman Ridge on Thursday, she found the house her team helped build last year. "We were all excited," she said, "to see people were living in it."

Schwethelm, a corporate account partnership executive with the Silver Stars, says her team put up walls while she worked on the roof. "I got to play with a power tool," she said, "which is not something I get to do everyday."

Schwethelm has completed minor repairs on the country home that belongs to her family. But laboring on a roof overhang was a first. Thursday, she and her team painted the inside of one house, built cabinets and finished a roof.

"It's a great feeling to be part of this process and to be a part of an organization like Habitat for Humanity," she said. "I am more than happy to be out here."

Lindsay Petrone, 24, knows how to build houses. At 16, she started working for her father who owns a construction business in Akron, Ohio. She installed roofs. Got her hands dirty. Learned a lot about putting a house together.

But when Petrone showed up at Coleman Ridge last year, she was asked to do something she had never done before: frame windows. The experience was so gratifying she called her father and said, "What I did today made me miss working with you."

When Petrone returned to Coleman Ridge, she searched for the house she worked on last year. She spotted it on the corner adorned with a sign that read, "Home Sweet Home."

"Knowing I had a part in putting someone's house together made me feel good," said Petrone, a Rampage Sales Account Executive. "It's nice to be working on a new one. Next year when we come back, we can see two houses we helped build."

Volunteers enjoyed helping Habitat, which has built 779 homes since 1976. They also enjoyed something else: working side by side with fellow employees, some of whom they'd never met.

"A lot of guys have never done anything like this before," Delgado said. "We came together as a team. And it was awesome."