Building some more support for Habitat's cause

Sure, handing over a check is nice. But when you can roll up your sleeves and pitch in to the cause a little further, that makes it all the more satisfying.

Through French Lick Resort’s partnership with the Symetra Tour’s Donald Ross Classic, a donation goes to the local Orange County Habitat for Humanity. And recently, a group of French Lick Resort associates jumped in to see how that donation actually goes to work.

Construction just wrapped up on the newest Habitat house that created one heck of a happy holiday for a local family in need — they were able to get moved into the house just before Christmas. The $30,000 donation from the Donald Ross Classic was one piece that helped the new house come to fruition. Along with it, a group of about eight volunteers who work at the resort assisted on the build that took three months to complete.

A dedication ceremony was last month and allowed the recipient family to move into their new home in time for Christmas.

French Lick Resort joined several churches and other local organizations in supplying manpower to the project in the form of volunteers. It was the first time for the resort bringing an organized group of volunteers to the Habitat build, and it just made sense to extend the involvement in Habitat’s mission.

“That’s what I saw: Hey, we gave this money to Habitat, so let’s go out and try and make an effort with it and see it all the way through, and get more involved,” said Stacy Ables, the one responsible for finding most of the resort volunteers. “Now that we’re involved with the Symetra Tour, what better time than now to get involved, get the employees involved and go out and do that? The resort being a part of it, I think that was a big step for us.”

Stacy is both the Director of Casino Finance at French Lick Casino as well as a Habitat Board Member, so she wanted to get her French Lick family involved in a venture that’s been enriching for her. She’s been involved with Habitat for Humanity builds for about eight years, getting started because one of her employees at the time was the Habitat home recipient, and because her grandfather had done work with Habitat and liked it.

So Stacy got a few co-workers to come along for the ride. One was Jeff Whereatt, the casino’s Director of Slots who’s relatively new to the area and had been looking for an outlet to start volunteering.

Jeff came on the first day when the family the house was being built for was on site of the build for the first time: “We heard their story, they kind of went over that they have kids and they’re adopting additional kids, and just the whole process behind the home – I wasn’t even sure how the Habitat process really worked since this was my first time volunteering on a house.”

Ditto for Mary Johnson, a French Lick Casino slot technician who almost wasn’t able to attend on the day she went to volunteer — but was glad she did.

“For me it was very rewarding because there’s a lot of families out there that need help,” Mary said.

As Mary helped to primer and paint the bathroom walls a taupe-ish color, she also got to chatting with a few of the little kids from the recipient family—who were all jazzed about getting their own bedrooms in this new house, after having to share a room in their old apartment.

“The little girl, she’s getting her own room and he said she was excited about that,” Mary said. “She was just so sweet, and the little boy from the family, he just went around and thanked everybody.”

Seeing the Habitat cause at work firsthand made Mary wish that everyone could find a little time to pitch in. Even for just one Saturday morning shift. “One weekend: anybody could do one weekend,” she said.

And with the connection between French Lick Resort, the Donald Ross Classic and Habitat for Humanity still going into 2019, Stacy’s hope is that the Resort’s volunteer presence will keep expanding for the next house that Habitat builds from the ground up.

“I’d like to see it grow every year,” she said. “I think there’s a lot of ways to give back.”



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