JACKSON CENTER — “It’s officially started.”
Those words were spoken by William Horstman, Habitat for Humanity of Miami & Shelby Counties executive director Sunday afternoon after Kara Mullen and her children broke ground for their new four bedroom home at 107 Birch St. in the village.
“I’m trying to make it through this without crying,” said Mullen as she introduced her children — Jaden Rice, Delaney Rice and Sailor Mullen — to the crowd of approximately 60 people who had gathered for the ceremony. “I’m so grateful. I never expected for this to happen.
“I’m excited to be back in my hometown. I’ll be able to raise my children where I was raised,” she said.”
The afternoon began with a welcome by Horstman.
“We are here to celebrate a new beginning,” said Horstman. “Normally it rains when we do this, so this is a good sign.”
John Schweser, Habitat for Humanity of Miami & Shelby Counties president, shared the history of the organization.
“We build homes,” said Schweser. “We build communities. We build hope.”
Mullen and her family, said Schweser, will assist with the construction of their future home. They will then purchase the home through a loan with Habitat for Humanity of Miami & Shelby Counties.
“We are one of the largest lenders in the country,” said Schweser, who thanked Airstream for partnering with the organization for the project.
“We can’t do what we do without businesses like Airstream,” he said.
Volunteers are also a vital part of the building process. But he said,”You don’t have to swing a hammer to help.”
Donations to the Habitat for Humanity of Miami & Shelby Counties store in Troy, which are then sold, assists with the building projects.
Horstman, when introducing Robert Wheeler, Airstream president, said he appreciates what Wheeler and Airstream have done for the Jackson Center community.
“When I asked him to help with the project, there was no hesitation on his part,” said Horstman.
Wheeler thanked all those present for being there. A portion of the crowd was wearing white T-shirts declaring they were Airstream employees and volunteers on the habitat project.
“I’m not sure why I didn’t get one (white T-shirt),” joked Wheeler.
On a serious note, he thanked the village of Jackson Center, Habitat for Humanity of Miami & Shelby Counties and “all the people who have stepped up to help this cause.
“We have the opportunity to provide a house which they will call a home,” said Wheeler. “We are helping our community. We are helping Kara and her family. We are grateful to be in a partnership with habitat.
“I look forward to the day when we can hand over the keys and they can walk in the front door for the first time,” he said.
Jackson Center Mayor Scott Klopfenstein expressed his appreciation to Airstream and for everything the company has done for the village since it first opened 65 years ago.
“This is a special day,” said Klopfenstein. “I’d like to thank Airstream for another project in the village. I think the employees who give of themselves.
“We are truly blessed by Airstream and we will never take it for granted,” he said. “Kara, we look forward to you calling Jackson Center home.”
Sidney-Shelby County Chamber of Commerce President Jeff Raible congratulated Airstream “on your decision to partner with habitat for a home for the Mullen family.
“It was a cool and generous thing to do,” said Raible.
Quoting from the “Wizard of Oz,” via the website Real Simple, Raible said, “Dorothy was spot on when she said there’s not place like home.”
The website, he said, calls a home a person’s sanctuary. It is their place to escape from the world or to have the grass stains removed from the knees of blue jeans. There’s always a Popsicle in the freezer and the tuna casserole is always good, he quoted the site.
Shelby County Commissioner Julie Ehemann said companies like Airstream make Shelby County a special place to live. Jackson Center, she continued, is blessed to have such giving people work and live in its community.
“Kara, I hope you feel the love around you today,” said Ehemann.
Paul Hoying, president of Hoying and Hoying Builders, is the head of the project. He serves on the construction committee for Habitat for Humanity of Miami & Shelby Counties.
“I’ve helped on several habitat homes in the past, but never on the complete project like this,” said Hoying. “I’m looking forward to working with Airstream and their volunteers along with the other volunteers from the area to build the best home that we can for Kara.”
Hoying and Hoying Builders, he said, will be leading the framing and structural work. Other companies who are involved with the project include Wells Brothers, Woehrmyer Concrete, Steve and Teds Services, Area Energy and Electric, Mr. Concrete, Schockman Lumber, Lowes, Rindler Truss, Pella, Francis Schulz, Barhorst Woodwork and Bud Polleys Floor Center.
“These are just a few of the many local companies that are working hard to support and improve our communities,” said Hoying. “I also want to mention everyone is welcome to work on Kara’s home. If you are interested, please contact me or Habitat for Humanity of Miami & Shelby Counties and we will get you involved.
Hoying closed his statements with “And one last thing: If you all pray that the weather stays like this for the next several months, that will help as well.”
Pastor Alan Leach, of Connection Point Church in Sidney, provided the invocation and benediction for the ceremony.