Peter Phair, left, executive director of Waterville Area Habitat for Humanity, stabilizes a ladder for Skip Pratt while the two work Wednesday on framing the roof of a house the organization is building in Oakland for a veteran and his children. Anna Chadwick/Morning Sentinel

OAKLAND — Corey Soucier seemed to speak for his co-workers when he described how it felt to help build a Habitat for Humanity home for a veteran and two children.

“Accomplished,” the 51-year-old Athens resident said. “Invigorating, to help somebody out. It feels good.”

Soucier, a millwright, was one of about a dozen of Huhtamaki’s maintenance workers who were volunteering Wednesday to help build a 30-by-44-foot, three-bedroom, ranch-style house on Jacques Lane off High Street. Most of the crew had helped to build three prior houses for Waterville Area Habitat for Humanity, including one in 2015 that is right next door to the one under construction this week.

Peter Phair, executive director for the Waterville organization, said the Huhtamaki workers, many of whom are carpenters and engineers, arrived Monday to see only a concrete slab, and by Tuesday they had the house all framed up. They will continue working through the week.

“These guys are amazing,” Phair said.

The veteran who will live in the house was working Wednesday and unavailable for comment, but Phair said he has come a long way, is taking classes and is grateful to Habitat’s board of directors for the opportunity to buy a house.


“He lives with his sister in South China,” Phair said. “The kids sleep in the trailer and he sleeps in a tool shed on the property.”

Employees from Huhtamaki volunteered this week to help frame a house under construction in Oakland by Waterville Area Habitat for Humanity. Anna Chadwick/Morning Sentinel

People must apply for such an affordable home, qualify financially and be eligible for a loan, according to Phair.

“Owners will not pay more than 30% of their income for the mortgage,” he said. “It’s not a free house. They have to have credit good enough to qualify for a small mortgage.”

This is the seventh house the local Habitat for Humanity has built in the last 20 years, with the first being a house on Drummond Avenue in Waterville.

“The owner just paid off the mortgage,” Phair said.

Habitat is able to build such affordable homes, including one on Clark Street in Waterville that was built in 2018, with donations and grants, and a lot of volunteer help. People also leave money to the organization in their wills. Businesses such as Huhtamaki are eager to lend their crews to help, according to Phair. Habitat for Humanity tries to build a house every three years, but was delayed during the COVID pandemic, he said. It bought the Jacques Lane property, which is just under an acre in size, in 2020.


Phair said contractors also volunteer and donate materials. Habitat bought materials from Hammond Lumber at a discounted rate for the current construction project, Hancock Lumber’s Mainely Trusses donated the trusses and Timber H.P. of Madison donated all the insulation.

Volunteers Corey Soucier, left, and Roy Barnaby laugh Wednesday while helping Waterville Area Habitat for Humanity build a home in Oakland for a veteran and his two children. Anna Chadwick/Morning Sentinel

The Waterville Area Habitat for Humanity hosts fundraising events and plans to hold a calendar raffle next month and a golf tournament Aug. 8. Information about those and other events are listed on the organization’s website,, and Facebook page from which people may also donate to or become volunteers. People also may contact Phair by emailing, he said.

Skip Pratt, who retired from Sappi’s Somerset Mill four years ago as safety manager, is the volunteer construction coordinator for Habitat. He praised the Huhtamaki volunteers for their work.

“They’ve done a fabulous job,” he said.

Steve Gross, a retired computer programmer, also volunteers and said more affordable housing is needed. He noted that a Habitat organization in Midcoast Maine built a 12-home affordable community.

“I think that’s wonderful,” Gross said. “I would love to see us get to that point.”


The Waterville Area Habitat for Humanity, which operates the ReStore retail store and donation center on Silver Street in Waterville, is the smallest Habitat chapter in the state, with two staff members and a full board of directors, according to Phair. They are grateful for volunteers like Pratt and Gross who will turn out at a moment’s notice to help.

“We would not be able to do this work without Skip and Steve,” he said.

Huhtamaki is supplying doughnuts, coffee and lunch for their workers all week at the site. On Wednesday, the company delivered lobster rolls to the crew.

Paul Clark of Albion prepares to cut a piece of wood Wednesday while volunteering with Waterville Area Habitat for Humanity to build a home in Oakland for a veteran and his two children. Anna Chadwick/Morning Sentinel

Paul Clark, 55, of Albion, a smooth finish technical coordinator at the company, said it feels good to know Huhtamaki is willing to allow workers to help build a home for someone in need.

“We work for a good company,” he said.

Huhtamaki’s operations manager, Alan Reynolds, also is president of the local Habitat’s board of directors. Huhtamaki’s maintenance manager, Dave Capponi, was at the building site Wednesday and said the employees volunteering are some of the company’s best. Helping to work on the Habitat house gives them a chance to be outdoors in a different environment and work together for a worthy cause.

“It’s a nice break for them,” Capponi said.

After the Huhtamaki crew leaves at the end of the week, other volunteers will work four to six months to install cabinets, flooring, fixtures and other features in the house, according to Phair.

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