Rising from the ashes

John Bouldin spearheads resuscitation of Habitat for Humanity project home

The day starts early and ends late.

At 6 a.m., 66-year-old John Bouldin wakes up, gathers himself and drives over to the wooden house at 745 Yampa Ave. There, he starts a fire to warm up the old structure and then leaves for morning coffee and a bull session with his pals at the Village Inn.

By 9 a.m. sharp, he's back at the house working on a home that isn't his own. He doesn't quit until he's satisfied with the day's progress, which almost always occurs after dark.

This happens six days a week. And this is what Bouldin calls retirement.

"You can write this down," Bouldin said on Saturday, another day spent volunteering his free time as project manager of the Moffat County Habitat for Humanity project home. "There is no such thing as retirement."

The Habitat home, the group's first project in its short history, is earmarked for the Burkett family, of Craig. Saying that the home means merely killing free time for Bouldin would be misguided.

It means much more to him than that.

When asked why he dedicates so many hours to renovating the home, Boulding chokes up.

He remembers his childhood in Fowler. He remembers his hard-working father, a dirt farmer, who oftentimes couldn't catch a break.

He remembers growing up with his family, a family that didn't have a house of their own, and sleeping on a back porch because space was tight.

Mostly, he remembers a much simpler time when people came together and helped one another, an embodiment of the name of a nearby community, Unity.

"I guess it was my childhood," Bouldin said. "When people needed something, they all kind of banded together. I saw that as a young child. That's important to me. I think that goes pretty deep.

"That's something I'd like to see more of -- the community banding together for a common cause, because then, nothing can stop you."

Bouldin retired from the Colorado Department of Tran-sportation, where he worked as a surveyor and project manager for several decades, in 2001. He then spent four years working freelance as a consultant for construction companies.

With a work history and experience in the construction field, Bouldin knew the task of rebuilding the Habitat home was a daunting one.

"I really thought it was an impossibility -- too much of a job for a first time project," he said. "I knew we had problems here.

But, a closer look at the house, its structural integrity and the materials that could be salvaged gave him a better understanding of what could be accomplished. Add that to childhood memories of people rallying around a singular cause, and Bouldin's take on the house grew from impossible to probable.

Today, the house is coming together. Where it once stood at a standstill, where little progress was noticeable, Habitat members jokingly comment on the house's resuscitation now by saying it "looks like a house."

Crews continued work on the interior and bolstering the home's foundation Saturday. Habitat is shooting for a completion date early next year.

Bouldin accepts little credit for the house's dramatic leaps forward.

"I have the easy part," he said, motioning toward the crew of volunteers pounding nails Saturday. "There's been a lot of help from the community."

His wife, Marilyn, is Habitat for Humanity's president.

"Marilyn has been the real driving force," he said. "She's been driving me."

While Bouldin is hesitant to accept praise, other Habitat for Humanity members are not so unwillingly to dole out compliments about the project manager.

Habitat treasurer Vicki Burns said Bouldin has been at the forefront of the project, completing tasks ranging from hammering nails to handing out thank-you cards to donors.

"In my mind, John has been kind of the driving force for the last four months or better," Burns said. "He's been the one making sure things have been done and been done the right way.

"Lucky for us John is retired from his career work. This has given him a new direction to focus his energies, and it's been to our benefit."

Patricia Jones, Habitat for Humanity vice president, was even more complimentary.

"He's been the energy to really get that house moving," Jones said. "It's like God has gifted him by saying this is what needs to be done. ... I always believe God is going to send somebody. (John) has really been a godsend."

Bouldin said he remembers the life philosophy of his grandmother-in-law, a woman who lived through the Great Depression and raised children as a single mother, when thinking about the project home.

"You just do it," he said. "When you set your mind to something, you just go and do it. ... If you want something, get it. If you want to do something, do it."

He said the payoff for all his toils will come when he sees the Burkett family move in.

"Just the look and smiles on their faces," he said, "is my reward."

John and Marilyn Bouldin have been married since 1972. They have two children: 26-year-old Todd lives in Gunnison, and 31-year-old Scott lives in Salida.

  • Joshua Roberts can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 210, or jroberts@craigdailypress.com.

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