Information about Habitat for Humanity featured at historical society event

Edward J. Knapp explains about the Thousand Islands Area Habitat for Humanity during the Lewis County Historical Society's Brown Bag Lunch series Jan. 15. Elaine M. Avallone/ Johnson Newspapers

LOWVILLE — Presenter Edward J. Knapp, a former school teacher, gave participants at the first Brown Bag Lunch series of 2020 at Lewis County Historical Society, a homework assignment.

Speaking to the group about Thousand Islands Area Habitat for Humanity, Mr. Knapp assigned the group the task of finding a partner family for a house to be built in Lyons Falls.

The speaker said Habitat for Humanity needs four things to provide decent, affordable housing for those in need — volunteers to help build or renovate the house, the house or a build location, a partner family and money.

No experience is needed to volunteer on a build since work is overseen by an experienced project manager and professional craftsman. Volunteers are not only needed to help with construction but to serve on committees, help with fundraising and to help secure in kind gift donations.

According to Mr. Knapp, families qualify based on their need for housing, willingness to partner with Habitat and ability to pay a mortgage.

Need is determined by the person’s current living situation whether it be homelessness, overcrowding or substandard housing.

Partnering with Habitat for Humanity is considered a “hand up not a hand out.” Partner families must contribute “sweat equity” by helping to build their home or in some other capacity for Habitat for Humanity.

Mr. Knapp pointed out that helping to build the home, “teaches them about home ownership.”

Interested candidates must pre-qualify through a third party for financing. A pres-screen packet can be obtained by emailing, calling 315-785-0308 extension 1 or by mail to Habitat for Humanity, 938 Water St., Watertown, NY 13601. The purchase price of a Habitat for Humanity house is lower than traditional homes.

Since Thousand Islands Area Habitat for Humanity was founded in 1994, the organization has worked to fulfill its mission by helping dozens of families in Jefferson and Lewis counties achieve the goal of home ownership.

Currently, the local affiliate is finishing a three-bedroom home in Carthage. The final addition of Braman’s Block, on Boyd Road is expected to be completed in early spring but volunteers are still needed.

The local habitat organization recently launched a program to help existing homeowners. “Brush with Kindness,” available in Jefferson and Lewis counties, helps existing home owners who need help with home repairs. At this time, Brush with Kindness is limited to repairs outside of the home, such as wheelchair ramp installation, porch repair or window replacement.

Mr. Knapp said the organization is seeking referrals for this program and his wife, Molly pointed out up to $1,000 in materials is allotted for each project.

Land in Lyons Falls was recently offered to Habitat for Humanity on which to build a ranch style home. The organization is seeking a partner family for the site which is near the park and Otis Technology. Once the partner family is selected and financing is approved, construction can begin and volunteers will be needed.

Mr. Knapp said he hopes to not drag out the construction and do a “blitz build” so the exterior can be completed and the structure is weather tight by fall. After that the interior work can be completed.

Mr. Knapp also talked about the ReStore. Located at 938 Water St., Watertown, the store sells gently used and new appliances, windows, hardware, doors, furniture and building supplies. He said the store is a good place to purchase materials for home projects and accepts donations. The store is open to the public 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday and Tuesday and from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday.

For more information about Habitat for Humanity, to apply for housing or to volunteer, call 315-785-0308 or visit the website at

Marian Opela of the Lewis County Historical Society said although topics have not yet been decided the Brown Bag Lunch informational sessions will continue with future events scheduled for Wednesdays mid month.

For more information about the historical society or its activities visit

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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