COLUMBIA — Mohammad Mazban, a four-year Columbia resident, is helping Show-Me Central Habitat for Humanity to build his new home.
Mazban moved his family to Columbia from Iraq four years ago. He was working with the U.S. Army, he said, and some of the native militia were unhappy with his involvement. He decided it was too dangerous for his family to stay in the country.
Mazban and his wife are employed at hotels in Jefferson City and Columbia, and their son and daughter attend college in Moberly.
"I am very happy because I have my home, I have my job, in the U.S.," Mazban said.
The sound of pounding hammers and saws tearing through plywood stilled for a few minutes Friday morning for a ceremony dedicating Old Plank Estates. The Mazban home will be the first of 30 houses in the new Habitat for Humanity subdivision at Route K and Old Plank Road.
The 11 acres Old Plank Estates is being built on were donated several years ago by Boone County National Bank.
Mary Wilkerson, the bank's senior vice president of marketing, opened the ceremony to a small gathering of volunteers, bank members and Habitat for Humanity board members.
"The American dream is still alive, right here," she said.
Dixie Fisher, the board secretary for Show-Me Central Habitat for Humanity, said these houses are a little different than the 113 houses the organization has built in other parts of Columbia. The Old Plank Estates will have a few touches to make them look different from one another: Some stone detailing will be used, and each house will have a one-car garage.
"When you get 30 houses there, you don't want them all to look alike," Fisher said.
Mazban's house has been under construction for about a month. He helped install siding around the house on Friday morning.
Mazban is working with the Day Crew, a group of volunteers that build houses for Habitat for Humanity. The Day Crew spends about four hours building on Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings. Because of all their hard work, the street running through the subdivision will be named "Day Crew Loop."
Ross Swofford, a retired livestock specialist for MU Extension, is one of the oldest members of the Day Crew.
Swofford began working for Habitat for Humanity in 1988. He said he knew friends at his church involved with the organization and when he joined he went to Costa Rica to build.
After he returned from Costa Rica, he stayed with the organization. He served on its board for three years and was president for two years.
"I'm just doing something beneficial," Swofford said. "This is something that helps people out."
Swofford said that Mazban's house could be completed in about two months. For now, the interior has to be finished along with insulation and drywall.
Mazban is required to help with the construction. It is among the requirements he must meet to be eligible for his house.
The requirement, called "sweat equity," mandates that home recipients work 250 to 300 hours during the building process. Fifty hours had to be completed before construction on his house even began. His family also has to pass credit and criminal checks and have a yearly gross income between $18,900 and $37,000.
When the house is complete, Mazban and his family will receive the title. From there, he will have to make mortgage payments every month along with insurance and property taxes.
Habitat for Humanity keeps the loan interest-free with sweat equity and volunteer work, Fisher said.
Mazban said he plans to help build additional houses in the subdivision, and he's already pitched in with the Day Crew on the foundation for the next house with help from Boone County National Bank volunteers.
Supervising editor is John Schneller.