Crane in the Community: Volunteers assist Habitat for Humanity

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PITTSFIELD — Pipes were coming out of the basement, a heating system being replaced, floorboards removed from an attic, wall cracks prepped for plastering and a support structure planned for the porch.

It's how an old house becomes a modern dwelling, and this weekend, it was done through teamwork, volunteerism and dedication on the part of its future owner.

A team of 14 Crane & Co. employees and a crowd of Central Berkshire Habitat for Humanity workers put in a full day's work at 5-7 Hall Place near Berkshire Medical Center on Saturday.

The renovation job is coming along nicely, volunteers said, and the structure soon will become the home of one Sheerece Adams, Habitat's 37th homeowner in Pittsfield.

Adams has logged more than 430 hours of labor on three other homes and excelled at financial education classes to earn the home, which Habitat acquired via donation in November.

"I learned so much about building, painting and how to take care of my home," she said. "I feel like I have the confidence and knowledge now to do things myself, rather than always call the plumber."

Habitat Executive Director Carolyn Valli said the home "had to be gutted down to the studs" and should be complete by August.

"It will look like a new house with the character of the unique, ornate trimming we're trying to preserve," she said.

Several other homeowners on Hall Place have also recently completed refurbishments, Valli added.

"It's actually the last house on that street that needs rehabilitation," she said. "We've really combined to turn around a whole street. It speaks well to what we're trying to do in Pittsfield in general."

It marked the first time Habitat was assisted by Crane & Co. employees, who participated through the company's relatively recent Crane in the Community program.

Twenty Crane employees signed up to participate Saturday — so many that six had to sit out and wait for next time because the whole lot wouldn't have fit in the house.

"It's a great feeling to be giving back to the community and see somebody putting in hard work to gain independence," said Rich Rowe, president of U.S. Government Products at Dalton-based Crane & Co. "This was one of our first events, and we're going to be trying to achieve several goals: go out in the community and do good work, and create a collective energy to bring others into the fold."

Crane workers are poised to continue chipping in at Hall Place throughout the renovation.

Work on the Hall Place home will continue on weekends.

Adams, who has a 17-year-old daughter named Tiniayah, started trying to get into Habitat's program in 2011. She was officially approved in 2014. Seven of her family members also put in labor on Habitat properties.

"You just got to want to do it," Adams said.

Contact Phil Demers at 413-496-6214.


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