For Belinda Schumacher, it all started with a piece of land. By this time next year, she’ll finally own her own home.
By BETH LIPOFF
Special to The Star
When Blue Ridge Trinity Lutheran Church in Raytown donated a section of its property to Truman Heritage Habitat for Humanity to build a home, the group looked for applicants in the community.
Schumacher had applied for a Habitat home before, but her credit wasn’t good enough. All prospective Habitat homeowners must have the means to pay the no-interest mortgage back to Habitat.
Applicants have to demonstrate a need for the new housing, while also earning enough money to be able to make payments. For example, their debt- to-income ratio cannot be more than 36 percent.
After her initial application, Schumacher took a year to work on her credit, reapplied, and her efforts paid off in a big way.
“I’m overwhelmed with emotion,” she said.
In recent years, the Truman Heritage group has focused its efforts in Independence, as the city awarded it a grant that allowed the organization to build 20 new homes there. The deadline for that project’s end is in March, so the group is now shifting its attention to new projects, like the Raytown house.
Churches and schools have been collaborating to make it happen.
Blue Ridge Trinity Lutheran has three vacant lots by its property and had considered donating the land before.
The effort gained traction two years ago when church council member Crystal McLaine, who had previously volunteered with other Habitat for Humanity projects, pushed for action. Some church members wanted to sell the land, but after a vote, the motion passed to donate it.
Schumacher works in the cafeteria at Fleetridge Elementary School in the Raytown School District, where her 10-year-old twins, Jessica and Mark, attend. Her 14-year-old daughter, Kari, pitches in to watch her younger siblings while Schumacher works a second job at McDonald’s.
The district is also doing its part by holding fundraisers in conjunction with local restaurants, which have raised about $1,400.
On Saturday, both the Raytown High School and Lee’s Summit High School jazz ensembles performed — along with the choirs of several area churches — at a benefit concert to raise additional funds. Raytown’s assistant superintendent of human resources, Vida Santone, also sang.
“It’s amazing how people have come together for my family,” Schumacher said.
So far, Habitat has raised about half of the $120,000 needed to build the house. When they break ground, Schumacher and her family will be helping build the house alongside volunteers. Part of the Habitat deal is that Schumacher, along with her friends and family, must give at least 350 sweat equity hours to the organization.
Pat Turner, executive director of Truman Heritage Habitat for Humanity, lauded the efforts of eastern Jackson County residents and businesses to support the Habitat house project.
“The community has really embraced the initiative,” Turner said.