Family takes part in Habitat wall raising

Jeanette Brickner
Tim Tiller pounds a nail into one of the frames of a wall in his future Habitat for Humanity home at 111 N. Norwood Place. A wall raising ceremony took place for the new home Saturday and was attended by East Peoria Mayor Dave Mingus.

Making a difference. Leaving a mark.

These are two concepts Lea Anne Schmidgall, executive director of Habitat for Humanity Greater Peoria Area, talked about at a wall raising ceremony in East Peoria Saturday morning. The celebration was for Bianca Sassman and her five children who will live at the home at 111 N. Norwood Place.

“I think that everybody who helps Habitat just by standing in this house and helping with it and helping with Bianca and with families, you’ve already made a difference that you were here on the planet,” Schmidgall said.

Thrivent Financial Services, an international Habitat sponsor, provided $42,000 toward the building of the home, and Sassman will have a 20-year, no-interest $80,000 loan on the home.

“We didn’t go to the bank to go buy all these materials. The $42,000 Thrivent gave us helped buy the materials, helped pay for labor we have to pay, take care of the lot and the taxes before, and we’ll use whatever above and beyond for the next house,” Schmidgall said, adding that the empty lot right next to Sassman’s home will be a Habitat house in the future.

In the same neighborhood, on Ridge Road, is the 100th Habitat Home that was built in central Illinois. Schmidgall said another Habitat home will be built on Forest Avenue in the same area in the future.

“East Peoria has welcomed us with open arms. I was just saying to the mayor, maybe in the next couple of years we’ll have 10 houses in East Peoria, maybe 12,” Schmidgall said.

East Peoria Mayor Dave Mingus attended the wall raising ceremony.

Schmidgall introduced the Rev. Wayne Shelksohn of Grace & Peace Lutheran Church that helps Habitat for Humanity.

“Tomorrow he’s going to be cutting shrubs and doing a job that probably nobody really wants to do, but he’s giving with his congregation of their time to serve the Lord by helping others,” Schmidgall said.

Wayne read some scripture and said a prayer.

“Thank you Lord for this property and for this construction happening here. We see you amidst the plans, the activities, the work, the creativity and the outcome,” Wayne said.

Mike Trent, the head construction manager for Habitat for Humanity also spoke of the three outstanding groups of helpers and how quickly the frame of the home came together.

“Two days ago we just had this floor deck down. We had no walls, no trusses, no roof and the first day we got all the walls built except the garage. Yesterday we got all the garage walls built and set the trusses and this morning we just did half the roof in about an hour and 15 minutes, which is outstanding,” Trent said, thanking those who helped.

Sassman is the 104th Habitat for Humanity homeowner. Surrounded by her children, Sassman spoke about the blessing of Habitat in her life.

“The day I applied started a journey that changed my family’s life. I have met people that will forever be a part of me,” Sassman said. “Each and every one of you here today is part of that journey. … My children will benefit from their new church friends and their new, safe, beautiful home.”

For more information about Habitat for Humanity, call 676-6729 or visit