A Mitchell pastor will take part in a 500-mile charity bike ride later this month to raise money to help fight poverty housing in the Mitchell area.

Daryl Schubert, 60, pastor at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church and New Home Lutheran Church in Mitchell, plans to take part in the Habitat 500 Ride to Build fundraiser Sunday through July 19 in Minnesota to raise money for the Mitchell Regional Habitat for Humanity. This year marks the 27th time the benefit ride has been held.

Schubert is seeking sponsors to help him reach his fundraising goal. He is looking to raise $5,000 to help the local Mitchell organization build and repair homes for low-income families. Schubert said he has raised about $2,500 in donations as of early this week.

Habitat for Humanity is an ecumenical housing ministry that seeks to eliminate poverty housing from the world and to make decent shelter a matter of conscience, according to a press release from the organization. The Mitchell branch of the group has built or repaired more than 25 homes in Davison and Hanson counties with the help of volunteers, businesses and qualified partner families. The Mitchell affiliate is currently building its seventh new home since 2001.

The Habitat 500 itself is a bicycle ride and fundraiser that covers up to 500 miles over six days. Riders raise funds from family, friends, businesses and church groups and designate which Habitat for Humanity affiliate they wish to support.

In this case, Schubert looks to benefit the local Mitchell affiliate, but it won’t be his first time riding to support the overall organization. He previously took part in the event when he pastored at St. John Lutheran Church in Madison, with funds going toward the East Central South Dakota Habitat for Humanity affiliate there.

“I was living in Madison and working as a pastor there and I got involved with the Habitat for Humanity affiliate. The bishop of the South Dakota synod was retiring, and he had done one (bike ride) and he said I should think about doing it,” Schubert said.

A long-time cycling enthusiast, Schubert got on board and ended up raising $2,600 for that ride in 2009. Schubert will be using the same recumbent cycle this year that he used on his first Habitat 500 ride 10 years ago.

Schubert enjoys working with Habitat for Humanity because of its reputation for helping those in need and because of its philosophy.

“It’s a well-established group with a good philosophy. It gives a hand up and not a hand out,” Schubert said. “And people put sweat equity into the project. There’s excellent support from the community with sponsorships and people putting work into it by banging nails and using the paint brush.”

Pastor Daryl Schubert will be riding his bike 500 miles trying to raising money for Habitat for Humanity. (Matt Gade / Republic)
Pastor Daryl Schubert will be riding his bike 500 miles trying to raising money for Habitat for Humanity. (Matt Gade / Republic)

New homeowners working with Habitat for Humanity complete between 200 and 400 hours of sweat equity on their homes and the homes of others. When the home is completed, they purchase their homes from the organization using a 30-year, no-interest mortgage. These partner families must meet strict income and credit requirements in order to qualify for the Habitat for Humanity program.

Other programs, like A Brush With Kindness, an exterior home preservation service that offers painting, landscaping, and minor exterior repair services for homeowners in need, are also a part of Habitat for Humanity.

The organization helps address an important need, Schubert said.

“Housing is not cheap and some of it is not available. And it’s going to be a need that’s with us for awhile,” Schubert said. “There is a need for affordable housing. And through Habitat for Humanity they don’t get handicapped with a big debt.”

The ride is set to kick off July 14 near Duluth, Minnesota and continue for up to six days. The ride averages around 70 miles per day and includes visits to Habitat worksites, homeowners and affiliates in communities along the way.

Schubert will be one of the riders pedaling for the full duration. It can be tiring, but the camaraderie shared with fellow riders and organizers helps keep everyone focused and having fun.

“It’s going to be over 100 riders during the 500 miles. You’re riding in a group that’s encouraging each other. The miles go by, but then other times can be a little slow, like when you have a headwind,” Schubert said.

Schubert said he often takes part in other benefit rides and cycles for pleasure. He is active in the Palace City Pedalers in Mitchell. He said he would like to take part in another Habitat 500 sometime in the future, especially if other local riders decide to take part.

“I’ve been a bicyclist for 40-something years; it’s really my main hobby,” Schubert said. “And we have quite a cycling community in Mitchell. I’m hoping that people get to know this and that we can do it again. Not just me, but together with a couple of other local riders.”

Debbie Asmus, executive director of the Mitchell Regional Habitat for Humanity, said Schubert’s participation came as a surprise but will be a great benefit to the organization.

“It came out of nowhere and we were delighted to hear from him. That fact that he is willing to do it again -- the board was really impressed,” Asmus said.

Asmus said there are no immediately available statistics on how many people live in substandard housing in the Mitchell area, but she said the need for affordable living spaces is evident in most communities.

“All you have to do is drive around some of the older areas of Mitchell to see homes in all kinds of disrepair,” Asmus said. “We have a tendency to drive around the lake and see the nicer homes, but you don’t have to go very far to see houses that are in need.”

Asmus said in addition to efforts like the one by Schubert, community support and volunteer labor and materials are crucial in allowing Habitat for Humanity to fulfill its goal. The organization partners with local banks, and accepts donations from giving citizens.

The house currently being built in Mitchell is for a grandmother raising three grandchildren ranging in age from 3 to 11. It takes about two years to complete a new house, Asmus said, which is why also conducting home repairs is an important part of the Habitat for Humanity mission.

“When it takes two years to build a home, the impact isn’t that big on the community, unless we’re able to keep making those repairs,” Asmus said.

She said the group has one lot left in Mitchell upon which to build a house. After that, they will start looking for more property to continue their work.

She said Schubert’s participation in the Habitat 500 will benefit the organization in terms of both raising money and awareness.

It can be a long ride, Schubert admits, but the knowledge that he’s pedaling for a good cause, and with a good group of riders, will help make the miles melt away.

“There will be some long days, but I’ll just take it one mile at a time,” he said.

Schubert said donations and support can be directed to Mitchell Regional Habitat for Humanity, P.O. Box 1331, Mitchell SD 57301. Checks should be written to Mitchell Habitat with “Habitat 500” in the memo line. Schubert said donations for his ride will still be accepted even after the Habitat 500 event.