Steamboat Springs Routt County Habitat for Humanity benefited Friday from a bounce in participation in construction of its West End Village duplex, partly in response to the recent criminal charges against the organization's former executive director.
Habitat for Humanity has cooperated with investigators, and Board Director Jeffery Weeden has maintained a transparency in operations since more than $72,000 was discovered missing from the local chapter's bank account, allegedly stolen by former executive director Shelly Flannery.
A call for help and a positive reaction to the organization's handling of the theft brought out dozens of volunteers from two local employers.
Prudential Steamboat Realty and K & K Builders responded to requests from Jeffery Weeden and interim Executive Director Tommi Weeden to help finish the duplex in West End Village by the end of October.
Heidi Flint, a transaction manager for Prudential, was working with broker associate Barkley Robinson on landscaping outside the duplex Friday. Flint said she hoped the build day would help the organization's image as it works to help people.
"After the negative stuff that's been going on, it would be nice to shed a positive light on it," she said.
Leif Myhre, construction manager for Habitat for Humanity, said the number of volunteer workers has fluctuated throughout the past few weeks, with two to four people usually volunteering on the weekend.
"So when we do get a church group or an organization or a youth group, it's a great help," he said.
Myhre estimated one half of the duplex was about 99.5 percent complete - the carpet was laid early Friday - while the other side was about 97 percent complete. By the afternoon, volunteers were working on installing and painting trim work, hanging doors and putting the finishing touches on an outside railing.
Myhre said the community has responded positively to Habitat for Humanity's work, despite the theft.
"Folks were surprised but still very supportive of our mission," he said.
Laura Cusenbary, director of marketing for Prudential, said her company had several dozen volunteers divided between three shifts - two Friday and another Saturday morning.
"Reading the newspaper (about the alleged theft), you really want to do the right thing," she said.
Prudential also regularly donates to Habitat for Humanity, but this is the first time the company has organized volunteer workers.
Kim Kreissig, of K & K Builders, said her company has the same history with Habitat for Humanity, but she was happy to be able to get workers on site to help.
"We just heard there was a need, and it's a good opportunity for our construction company," she said. K & K had more than a dozen skilled workers on site Friday.
Kreissig said she saw this as an opportunity to help Habitat for Humanity and was encouraged to volunteer after hearing about the theft.
"It made me want to (volunteer) even more," she said. "It's an unfortunate circumstance, but I don't see it as a negative reflection of Habitat at all."
Habitat for Humanity still is seeking volunteers to work on the duplex for the rest of the month. It is located at 2952 and 2954 Abbey Road.