To many folks, Doug and Rose Allen are synonymous with Truman Heritage Habitat for Humanity, a nonprofit, ecumenical Christian organization building simple, decent, affordable housing in partnership with people in need.
The volunteers working side by side with the Independence couple – week after week, year after year – know their passion for helping Habitat achieve its mission of securing houses for the needy in Eastern Jackson County through its sweat-equity program.
When Jim Hannah first met the Allens seven years ago as a Wednesday volunteer, he soon realized the Allens’ longtime affiliation with Habitat was “an expression of their love for Christ, and wanting to put that (love) into some sort of tangible expression.”
“They aren’t about themselves; they are about giving to other people,” Hannah says. “And you really caught that as you were around them, because they have a spirit of joy, and (volunteering) is not something they feel obligated to do. It’s something they are doing because they are celebrating the opportunity to be part of something significant – like (Habitat) – to improve people’s lives.”
The Allens, who thrive on serving others, will be on the receiving end when the Independence Unit of Christian Women United presents them with its fourth annual Human Rights Award on Feb. 6 at First Christian Church of Independence. This year’s Human Rights Celebration theme is “Breaking Down Doors.”
“Doors come to us like buildings; doors come to us like homes, and we feel like people need a home,” says Marge Troeh of CWU, noting it’s only when people are secure in a home that they have opportunities to fulfill other goals. “So we wanted to lift up the cause of Habitat for Humanity in the way it provides housing for people, not as a gift, but as an opportunity.”
The Allens, who do not have a construction background, were selected for the award because “we feel our honorees have taken advantage of a community opportunity to do construction that benefits the whole community,” Marge explains. “So we want to honor them ... and make (the community) more aware of Habitat and opportunities to work with (the organization) in furthering this type of award.”
The Allens are just now learning that they are to be honored.
The public is invited to attend the 10 a.m. celebration and the light lunch that follows. A freewill offering will be taken, with proceeds divided between Habitat for Humanity and CWU.
Michael Fisher, Habitat construction director, says he has found Doug and Rose to be ideal volunteers because of their dependability, expertise and passion to put more people into more new homes.
“They kind of light up the job site” with their enthusiasm and know-how, he says, noting they can do almost everything between them.
“Rose is my expert painter. ... So when it comes to paint time, she is usually the first person to grab a paint brush, a can of paint and (get) going.”
As for Doug, “He does a lot more of the carpentry work,” Fisher says, “because he has knowledge in nearly all aspects of building.”
The Allens have worked on more than 40 of the 65 houses Habitat has constructed, accounting for 75 percent of all Habitat housing in Eastern Jackson County. In addition – since records were first kept in 2005 – Doug has recorded some 1,600 hours; Rose, 1,300 hours.
Michael believes there were many more work-equity hours that weren’t recorded, in addition to the numerous hours the Allens gave to Yolanda Greer, while her Habitat house was being built in 2010 at 11332 E. 10th St. South.
“For me, because I showed up (for work) so much, (the Allens) would donate their hours to me,” says Greer. “They would see me every day and say, ‘We are going to give you our hours today.’”
Greer, the mother of four children, says Doug and Rose were so knowledgeable, kind and helpful.
“They were very welcoming to me,” she recalls on her first day as a volunteer. “I was nervous and all these people were looking at me. They welcomed me in ... and actually showed me what to do. They were like an extension of the Habitat workforce for me. They knew what they were doing. ... I simply adore them.”
Why are the Allens so passionate about opening the doors to new homes?
Hannah believes they have a deep sense of faith they are giving back to the community through their volunteer work, and they feel blessed and want to pass that along to others out of a deep sense of conviction.
Says Hannah of their legacy: “I think they have been very involved in building houses. But I think in their heart they want to create homes ... especially for people who need a ‘hand-up’ in our world. And they want to create homes for those people. I think that will be their legacy.”
As for Fisher, he believes their legacy will be the number of lives they have touched through Habitat for Humanity. Not just the homeowners themselves, but the numerous volunteers who worked next to them.
Thanks, Doug and Rose Allen for making homes a reality for those in need. What the world needs now are more compassionate, caring and loving couples like you giving a hand-up. May God richly bless you and the other Habit volunteers.
Retired community news reporter Frank Haight Jr. writes this column for The Examiner. You can leave a message for him at 816-350-6363.