The new house on Carter Street in Killeen is filled with people. They come in and out, making small talk and pointing to its new paint, appliances and kitchen.
They’ve come to congratulate Earl Jones, 46, who received the keys to the house Saturday. Earl and his six children will be moving into the house, which was built by Bell County Habitat for Humanity, a nonprofit organization that provides affordable housing for low-income families.
As attendees take a tour of the house and wait for the ceremony to begin, a thin man in a hat stands outside the door speaking with one of the guests. He points out its features, and can name nearly every component of the 1,400-square-foot home.
His name is Bill Generali, and he is the construction supervisor for this project. As an employee for Bell County Habitat for Humanity, it’s Bill’s job to make sure the homes the organization builds are constructed in a safe, timely manner and come in under budget. He tells me he’s been doing this job since 2006.
That job isn’t always an easy one. While the commercial contractors that build Killeen’s sprawling housing tracts, strip malls and other properties get massive budgets and truckloads of supplies, the materials and funds used to build Habitat’s houses are usually donated or bought with money raised for the organization. Mistakes that could be shrugged off on commerical projects can be costly for a house Habitat builds.
“You just have to take things a little slower, and really plan things out,” Generali said.
The crews that build the homes under Generali’s watch also present some challenges. They are often made up primarily of nonprofessional volunteers from all walks of life, some of whom are working on such a project for the very first time.
While they may not be a professional construction crew, Generali said the key to success is patience and an unwavering commitment to safety.
“You just have to take your time, and explain what needs to be done and how we need to do it,” he said. “You take it slow and make sure everyone understands what they are doing. It may take longer, but ensuring everything is properly built and everyone is safe is paramount.”
Despite the various challenges of the job, it’s clear that Generali takes pride in the volunteers, and in the role he plays providing deserving families with new housing.
“It’s great to provide people with a home,” Generali said. “That’s what it’s all about.”