Habitat for Humanity builds homes for people who otherwise can't afford them with the help of volunteers, sweat equity and donated materials. Last week, thieves broke into the nearly-finished homes and stole $10,000 worth of goods.
Erin Colton is site manager at the seven-home project on Whitney Young Circle and Hudson Street. She has been on the project working and guiding volunteers for Habitat for Humanity since January of last year.
"It's almost a personal affront that somebody would steal from Habitat," said Colton.
Stoves, dishwashers, washers and dryers, and refrigerators at three of the homes were stolen last week. Thieves gained access by breaking glass in the back of the homes.
"They unscrewed appliances and detached them. They did a pretty good job of detaching things so it was clearly somebody who knew what they were doing," said Colton.
But those thieves may not have known how personal volunteers would take this. Patrick Howard has been volunteering 20 hours a week for 9 years; he knows the joy of this work.
"It's very concrete, you see it, you've worked on it, you can say, 'Oh, I put that light up,'" he said. For him the theft is personal. "Taking what has been donated, or that we had to buy with donations given to us, it's just absolutely discouraging to me," said Howard.
But moments after that interview everyone got a massive morale makeover when Whirlpool appliances called to say they will replace every one of the 15 appliances that were stolen at no charge. Then PG&E called to pledge $10,000 and an individual donated $5,000 to the cause.
"We're not going to let a little petty theft detour us from completing these homes on time," said Colton.