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Day Two Of 'Welcome Home'

On the second day of Welcome Home, a weeklong series that followed the construction of a Habitat for Humanity home, CBS This Morning Co-Anchor Mark McEwen spoke with the volunteers who came to help build the house in Yonkers, N.Y.

With the expertise of building guru and CBS News Consultant Bob Vila, more than 200 volunteers, and future homeowner Michelle Hayes, a great deal was accomplished in just two days.

The Habitat for Humanity project is the urban equivalent of an old-fashioned barn raising. A nonprofit organization, Habitat's goal is to provide affordable housing for families in need.

"Everybody just gels," said volunteer Robert Brannigan on Tuesday. "It's almost like you're flowing together, and about the time everyone gets really good, the job is done."

The goodwill came from across the street and around the nation.

"We've flown in from all over the country," said Bob Irving, who volunteered his time to help out. "I'm from Colorado, but guys from Washington, Nebraska - all over - come here to help with this."

For many who witness the work, the spirit is infectious. There is no way to just sit back and watch.

"I saw the lady that's going to be living here. She seemed really happy. Her eyes are lit up. It gives you a warm feeling inside," said volunteer Steve Thompson.

Hayes is indeed happy, and thankful for the hundreds of people who gave their time to work on her home.

"One person can't do it. You need friends," Hayes said.
"I had a lot of people who were there, even that came for an hour or two hours. It was the thought."

Joe Diaz will be Hayes' neighbor, living two doors down. For him, helping is all about bringing back the feeling of community to his neighborhood.

"Today, people, I find, are too isolated," Diaz said. "They don't communicate anymore. They don't express their emotions, and that's why I figured I should get involved."

With more than 70,000 homes under its tool belt, this five-day "blitz-build" was old hat for Habitat for Humanity.

"The Habitat record is 3 hours and 45 minutes," said Jim Killoran, director of the Yonkers affiliate of Habitat for Humanity. "Today, we would love to have beaten it. But that's maybe for next Thanksgiving or Christmas."

Bob Vila showed CBS News one way this Habitat house is special. It will use new technology such as solar-powered shingles to reduce energy costs and environmental impact.

Bob Vil holding a solar-powered shingle. (CBS)

"It takes sunlight during the day and it converts it into electrical power," Vila explained. "It actually takes electricity from the sunlight, stores it in a battery, then it can be reused in the house or in the shed to power a light bulb."

If Hayes' entertainment plans work out, a little extra power might come in handy. "This year, I'm going to have Thanksgiving at my grandmother's as usual. But Christmas is at my house," Hayes said.

The electrical wiring was put into place Nov 16., and an inspector came by Nov. 17, giving it his stamp of approval.

Vila said the trim on the overhang of the roof and the siding were also created using new technologies that makes the Hayes' home a showcase for cutting-edge homes.

"This is a plywood, a manufactured product, which is essentially an oriented strand board that is treated so you don't have to worry about insects," Vila said, holding a sample of the siding.

Vila said the siding applied on the upper level of the home around the windows would give it a visually interesting design. The siding, donated by Louisiana-Pacific Corporation, comes in 4x8 foot sheets.

The rest of the house was sided with a similar product that comes in a 1x8 foot size like those used in traditional clapboard houses.

Inside the home Nov. 17, a volunteer crew of professionals worked on drywall. "By the end of the day today, we'll have the windows in place and we'll be painting in here," Vila said.

Written by Benita Green with graphic design by V.A. Burcop.
Copyright 1998, CBS Worldwide Inc., All Rights Reserved.

Sponsored in part by Louisiana-Pacific Corporation and the Partnership for Advancing Technology in Housing.


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