Community project continues

Gib-stopper Kevin Maloney, of Dunedin, works on the Owen home in Kaitangata on Friday. Photos by Helena de Reus.
Gib-stopper Kevin Maloney, of Dunedin, works on the Owen home in Kaitangata on Friday. Photos by Helena de Reus.
Volunteers are back in Kaitangata as ''Operation Owen'' continues, creating a home for a Kaitangata family.

Derek Craig, of Cromwell, and a committee of about a dozen others, created ''Operation Owen'' to construct a purpose-built home for Jodie and Terry Owen. The couple's two daughters, Charli (8) and Meg (3), have undiagnosed cerebellar ataxia. The condition affects the girls' co-ordination and balance, and makes them tire easily.

The Owens welcomed a new addition to the family in December - son Baxter.

Mr Craig designed the house, and the Owens have worked with him to ensure the house suits their needs.

The design includes wider doorways so Charli and Meg can use their walking frames inside, cavity sliding doors, and handrails throughout.

Dunedin gib-stopper Kevin Maloney, who has been on site since Wednesday, said he first learned about the charity project from an article in the Otago Daily Times.

Mr Maloney said the Owens were an amazing family and building the house was a great way to support them.

The house takes shape.
The house takes shape.
More than 100 people worked on the home last Labour Day weekend and dozens of businesses and individuals gave materials, money, and time.

The house was built at the Kaitangata Rugby Grounds, and was shifted to the Owens' section in Start St in December.

Mr Craig said the project had taken a break over December and January, but contractors and volunteers were back on site building a deck, insulating, and lining the inside of the house.

Last weekend a team of about 20 volunteers worked to complete the interior lining, he said.

''It's down to the nitty-gritty now. So far, the house has only cost around $5000. The public has been pretty amazing.''

Clutha Mayor Bryan Cadogan, a member of the Operation Owen committee, said it was great to see the project gaining momentum again.

''We're starting to see the finish line now.''

Mr Craig said laying carpet, measuring and hanging drapes, and landscaping were the next steps.

helena.dereus@odt.co.nz