Veterans life insurance

‘Ordinary Boys’ Make a Big Impact with Small Projects in Rushville

RUSHVILLE – Sometimes all it takes is a few regular guys with regular jobs who want to help their community.

That’s the philosophy espoused by John Goddard and Joe Deck, the driving forces behind the Rushville chapter of 2x4s for Hope, an organization dedicated to providing small homes for veterans in need.

The couple, along with many other volunteers, are “five-eighths of the way” to completing a second tiny home in Rushville.

Originally, Deck said they wanted to finish the house they’re currently working on by November 11, but it took longer than expected. They hope to finish early next year so work on a third house can begin.

“We started work on September 24 and about 50 people showed up,” Deck said. “Churches provided food. People bought food and donations. We did the outside with the roof and the windows. We’re just trying to keep going until we’re done.”

The 576 square foot, 16 by 36 foot homes are fully furnished and built by volunteers. Deck said the houses have a kitchen, living room and dining room combined into one space, a bathroom, a boiler room and a small bedroom.

“The houses are furnished with furniture and appliances, including a microwave, washer and dryer. We provide toiletries, bedding, plates, silverware and when they come in, the pantry, fridge and freezer are full. The veteran just brings his clothes and move in,” Goddard said.

“Whatever the need for this house and for this veteran, we just try to make sure it’s ready for them when they move in,” Deck said.

The veteran, who is chosen through an application process, pays only the tenant’s insurance, utilities and property taxes. The goal is to help them get back on their feet, so they can eventually move out and move in someone else in need.

“We want to help at-risk veterans; it has to be a veteran who needs housing. If you own property, you don’t have those kinds of needs,” Goddard said.

Deck and Goddard volunteer as much as they can. Deck has spent the past 25 years working at Reynolds Consumer Products in Jacksonville. Goddard is the director of safety for GM Sipes Construction in Rushville.

“It’s like going to church…you make time for it,” Goddard said. “We have police officers, teachers, vets…all kinds of people show up. We post on Facebook when we’re working, and they just show up. I’d like to say there’s a method to our craziness, but it works outside.”

Both men have family members and friends who served in the military, and they see it as a way to repay them.

“Jesus said, ‘There is no greater love for a man than to lay down his life for his friends.’ These veterans gave their wellbeing for us, and some continue to struggle,” Deck said. “It’s something we feel compelled to do in our spare time.”

The organization started in Quincy around 2014 and gradually branched out. There are six houses in Quincy, two in Mount Sterling, three in Lincoln, one in Carthage, and the second in Rushville. There are houses in Madison County and chapters are starting in Hannibal, Missouri, and Fort Madison, Iowa.

Deck said Quincy has more homes because they have a population of about 80,000 and more resources while Schuyler County has about 7,900 people. Quincy recently completed a home that was fully funded by Quincy Medical Group.

Goddard said he heard about the group in 2018. Before forming in Rushville, they helped out in Quincy.

“Even though Joe and I are co-chairs in Rushville, we still help other communities, primarily in Adams, Brown and Hancock counties,” Goddard said.

“In the past, we’ve hauled stuff for Quincy from Madison County. We try to help out when there’s a need,” Deck said.

To continue building houses, there is a need for money, so fundraising is a constant concern. It takes about $100,000 to build and furnish each house. Manpower is given, and they said companies have been good at helping them.

“We do all kinds of fundraising. We raffled off a 1967 Mustang and had a gun and ammo raffle. A few weeks ago we stood at the junction of US 67 and Illinois 103/100, asking for donations. But when you need that much money, you ask for whatever you can,” Goddard said.

“We’re going to keep going. We’re not going to give up. The end game does something for the veterans,” Deck said. “It’s just good to bring people together to help people who have given years of their lives for us.”

Both men are willing to talk to others about donating or starting other chapters.

“If you want one of us to come over and talk about starting one, we’ll be there,” Goddard said. “We’ve spoken to service organizations. We’ll speak to anyone.”

Anyone interested in donating to 2×4’s For Hope can send it to care of Bill and Lisa Roberts, 214 W. Clay St., Rushville, Illinois, 62618. Lisa Roberts is the local group’s accountant. Those interested in volunteering their time can contact someone through Rushville 2×4’s For Hope Facebook page.

“If the American public got off their cellphones, (moved) off the couch and did something to get involved in volunteering, we could get things done the way we did before,” Goddard said.