There are many people living in poverty in Faribault County. Or so state statistics indicate. Recent numbers show 12.4 percent of the county's population has income below poverty levels.
There certainly are quite a few lower income people and families living in the county.
A statistic in a story in this week's Register concerning signing up for health insurance states the median income for a family of four in Faribault County is just over $43,000. Median means half the four-unit families in the county make less than that.
Some make a lot less. The per capita income in Faribault County is $24,690, according to state statistics.
Perhaps there is no better statistic to make this point than the fact almost 50 percent of the students attending Blue Earth Area Schools qualify for free and reduced lunches because of their family income level.
Our government programs for food and heating assistance are also well used locally.
Which brings me to my point.
One would think Faribault County would be a prime location for the Habitat for Humanity organization to be able to find a family to partner with and help them build a home of their own.
But, so far, the local Habitat for Humanity group has not.
And they have not for the past two years.
Their last project was building a house in Fairmont over two years ago. Since that time they have wanted to build a house in Faribault County. They even own a lot in Blue Earth they could build it on.
They have some volunteers ready to help build it. Businesses ready to donate some of the materials. A lender ready to make the mortgage possible.
But, what they don't have is the family to help build it and then live in it.
I have to admit, I have always had a soft spot in my heart for Habitat for Humanity.
Perhaps it is because it is not a government program and it is not a give away program. The houses are not free. The family has to pay for it with a zero percent mortgage and they have to put in 500 hours of sweat equity as sort of a down payment.
Or maybe it is because former president Jimmy Carter is involved with it. Say what you want about Carter's foreign and domestic policies or lack thereof but we have never elected a nicer, more decent guy as our president. And he has done many wonderful humanitarian projects since leaving the presidency.
But, I digress.
New Habitat for Humanity director Staci Thompson is on a mission to find a family and build a house in Faribault County this summer. She is pretty confident she will be able to get the job done and we wish her a lot of luck.
It would be great to see a Habitat project in Blue Earth again.
Thompson got her soft spot in her heart for Habitat for Humanity when she first was out of college and went to work for the organization.
She tells the story of working on building a home in Mankato for a family consisting of a young couple with four kids all under the age of seven. It was one boy and three girls.
They were living in a small, old, two-bedroom mobile home. The new house under construction had three bedrooms on the main floor, but they added a small bedroom in the basement.
That was going to be for the little boy.
When Thompson showed him the room, still under construction, she had to convince him the room was going to be for him, and only him. He didn't have to share a room with his three sisters anymore.
He cried and hugged her.
Then he got a piece of cardboard and wrote "No Girlz Alowed" on it and hung it on a nail on a board.
Thompson has been hooked on Habitat ever since.
Habitat for Humanity is an international Christian non-denominational organization dedicated to building decent, affordable housing for people who need it. They have helped more than four million people around the world since the organization began in 1976.
There are 32 Habitat for Humanity chapters in Minnesota. They have built 2,100 homes in the state.
Hopefully, their 2,101st house will be in Faribault County.