GM workers lend a hand on Habitat house

AUSTINTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Habitat for Humanity of Mahoning County’s first home dedicated to a veteran is starting to take form in Austintown.

The ground has been broken and the walls are up on the house on New Road in Austintown. Thursday, the roof and much of the sheeting went up with the help of volunteers from General Motors Lordstown.

In March, GM announced a national gift of $1.45 million to Habitat for Humanity. About $80,000 of that money is helping to fund the house in Austintown that is being built for Iraq War veteran Sgt. James Skok and his family.

Thursday volunteers from the plant in Lordstown were out helping with the build.

“Anytime one of our servicemen comes home there should always be a beautiful home for him to come home to,” said UAW Local 1112 President Glen Johnson. “This is a fantastic project. They ensure our freedom and give us the opportunity to live the lives that we so cherish here.”

Sergeant James Skok along with his wife and three children will live in the house. Skok served nearly 20 years in the Marines and also served in the Iraq War. He said he is happy to do the 300 to 400 hours of “sweat equity” for their future home.

“They have me cutting wood and stuff because I have a metal plate in my back. Not enough to hurt me but enough to help,” said Skok. “These guys are fantastic. The only thing I can do is cut a piece of wood or tool for them, but a team is what builds a house.”

The house has become a community project with several agencies helping. The walls went up on the house a couple of weeks ago thanks to local volunteers the project has been moving along quickly.

“This house has been coming along rather well. We have only been on it for a few weeks. The trusses actually went up yesterday, “said Habitat for Humanity Coordinator Monica Craven. “They are starting on the roofing, and we hope to finish most of the sheeting today and depending on the weather we should have the shingles on by the end of the week.”

Skok said he is grateful for the help and support. Without the volunteers and their hard work the thought of owning a house that meets the needs of his family wouldn’t have been possible. Habitat is making sure the four bedroom, two bath home meets all of Skok’s long-term needs. The house will be handicap accessible and includes a one and a half car attached garage.

“I thank God. I thank them. They think I am crazy, but I thank them like a million times and they are okay. They get it now,” said Skok.

The house is expected to be complete by June.

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