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Habitat Hero Duane Mevis


Duane Mevis

 

Pastor Duane Mevis and his wife Carol are two of our first Habitat Heroes. They have been part of Fox Valley Habitat since its inception. In 1988, when Duane was the pastor of Wesley United Methodist Church in Naperville, IL, their friends Walt and Zella Brian shared their enthusiasm about Millard Fuller, the co-founder of Habitat for Humanity, with them. They were inspired by the National HFH’s 12th Anniversary celebration, which included a 1,200 mile “House Raising Walk” from Portland, ME to Atlanta, GA. The goal of the walk was to raise awareness, $1.2 million, and build 120 homes. The Mevises decided to participate, and that is where Fox Valley Habitat’s history begins.


Months before the event, Duane and his wife, Carol, walked daily to train for their 5-day, 100-mile walk. As a couple they pledged to raise $1,500, the cost of one home in a third-world country, but they raised more than enough to build two homes. In August of 1988, at the age of 54, Pastor Duane and Carol stepped off in Raleigh/Durham and walked to Winston/Salem NC. They finished in just 5.5 days by walking an average of 20 miles per day! They didn’t think they could continue after the first day, because they had so many blisters and aching muscles. More than 30,000 people took part in this amazing event. Not all participants walked, some built homes, donated money, provided water along the walk or prepared meals for the walkers, and lodging at night.


When they finished the walk, they took their memories and excitement back home. They felt the Habitat experience was too good to leave in North Carolina, so, they decided to invite interested churches and individuals to plan a local affiliate. By 1989 they had enough commitments to get Fox Valley Habitat for Humanity started. I asked Duane what made him want to start an affiliate? He replied, “I was hooked when I experienced the dedications of the homes that were being completed along the walk.” Millard Fuller would do a dedication service when homes were completed. He would give the recipients a Bible and the keys and invite the new homeowners to say something. Invariably they would try to thank everyone and soon break into tears. “This touched our hearts and inspired us to do something”.


In 1990, Pastor Duane was called to serve the United Methodist Church in Hinsdale. As he left Wesley United Methodist in Naperville, he knew his vision was already planted and in good hands with those he left behind to continue the mission. Their new church was located in DuPage County and while there, they worked with DuPage Habitat. Any chance he got he was asking about the progress at Fox Valley Habitat for Humanity. On September 29, 1991, Pastor Duane and Carol had the opportunity to participate in the first home dedication for Fox Valley Habitat for Humanity.


One of the posters they bought after the walk said, “A Little Love Goes A Long Way”. That has certainly been the case with FVHFH. 69 families now have a place they can call home. But, our work is not done. According to Duane, “I see Habitat helping so many more families in the future. I believe everyone deserves a decent, safe place to live.” Duane is an incredible example of how determination, love, and faith can be rewarding and help people from all over.


Pastor Duane was a wonderful visionary and helped to put our affiliate together. What he and his wife have done for Habitat for Humanity will always remain in the hearts of those families that now have a decent place to live.


 

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