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COLUMBUS – From a volunteer to a construction manager, Jim Hake has devoted his time to Habitat for Humanity since its beginning.

“I enjoy being with the volunteers,” said Jim Hake, construction manager at Habitat for Humanity.

Hake, 69, grew up in a farm 20 miles north of Columbus where he spent learning how to repair equipment and utilize a variety of tools. During his service in the Army in the Vietnam War, he received the Purple Heart from a combat wound to his eye. He returned home and began working in construction, where he has been ever since. 

He started out working with a home builder for seven years and a contractor for another three years. At the age of 23, Hake built his own home and is currently working on its remodeling.

In 1979, started his own construction company, Jim’s Home Repair.

His journey with Habitat for Humanity of Columbus began in 2010 with the chapter's first house. The executive director asked Hake asking for his help with the construction. One of the longest serving volunteers, he has helped build six Habitat houses.

Early this year he was named construction manager for the chapter, which is preparing to build a house beginning at the end of March. This will be his first year leading a project.

Hake enjoys the challenges each project provides and the people he meets along the way. He has to balance his time between his own business and working with the organization. Nonetheless, bouncing around both jobs is not an issue for Hake.

“I have been in business for myself for 39 years and it is hard to say no,” Hake said.

As the construction manager, Hake wants to bring in new floor plans for houses and expand their design size to accommodate bigger families.  

He is looking forward to retirement in two years and hopes to bring in an apprentice “to take under his wing.”

“I want somebody with me when we start building two houses next year so that they understand how to take over,” Hake said.

Hake said he and his wife, Karen, are hard workers. They’ve spent most of their lives working. Karen recently retired from her position as the Platte County Bookmobile librarian after 50 years. She has also made contributions to Habitat for Humanity by preparing meals for the volunteers.

“She’s an excellent cook,” Hake said.

During his retirement, Hake plans to spend his time traveling. Lori Peters, executive director of Habitat for Humanity said that Hake will be a tough person to replace.

“I kind of want to enjoy myself for a little bit,” Hake said.

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