SIDNEY – After years of struggles, Marie Strunk was able to let go of her past Thursday and provide a stable home for her three children.
Habitat for Humanity of Miami and Shelby Counties completed construction of Strunk’s new home at 737 Broadway Ave. in Sidney with project manager Paul Hoying handing over the keys during a Thursday morning dedication ceremony.
“We don’t have to live out of laundry baskets no more,” Strunk said as she fought back tears. “We don’t have to live out of containers any more. I’m thankful. I’m so thankful for that.”
Strunk and her children – Gaven Griffith, 20, Nevaeh Jones, 15, and Alex Ruiz, 10 – had been living in a one-bedroom apartment. Now they have a home to call their own, and each have their own bedroom.
“They were all sleeping in the living room,” Strunk said. “Now they have their own rooms, a four-bedroom house. They’re very excited.
“Lots of wonderful emotions. I’m excited. I’m ready to make memories.”
Strunk worked with Habitat officials to select a house layout that worked for her family. Their house was designed to be accessible for Griffith, who uses a wheelchair.
“I’m not going to have to lift him into a bathtub now,” Strunk said. “The shower, the doors open, and I’ll wheel him into the shower.”
Construction on Strunk’s new house began in September. Clopay Corp. sponsored the build – donating $100,000 plus doors that were made at its Russia and Troy facilities. Dozens of other companies and individuals donated materials and volunteered to help build the house.
“We owe a lot to this community,” said Steve Lynch, the president of Clopay. “It’s a great way to give back to the community, and we’re very proud of that.”
Strunk, who first applied for Habitat for Humanity assistance in February 2018, had to contribute sweat equity to be eligible. She worked at the Habitat for Humanity ReStore in Troy, helped with painting and trim work in her house and cooked for Habitat volunteers as they worked on her home.
Her children helped out, too, which included stuffing 500 envelopes and sending them to potential donors for future Habitat for Humanity projects. They also earned sweat equity hours for each “A” they received on their school report cards.
“Their grades went up,” Strunk said. “Nevaeh is on honor roll, and Alex’s grades went up.”
Strunk and her children earned 300 hours of sweat equity while their friends and family contributed another 100 hours to get them the 400 required hours.
Strunk also has to pay for her house, taking on a mortgage through Habitat for Humanity.
“There’s a big misconception throughout the country that Habitat donates and gives houses away,” Bill Horstman, the executive director of Habitat for Humanity of Miami and Shelby Counties, said. “Habitat is a nonprofit, not necessarily a charity, if you will. And we don’t give houses away. They purchase them. We build them, but we build them in a program that allows that affordable housing.”
To be eligible for a Habitat for Humanity home, families must fit criteria including earning 30-60% of the average median income for the Miami and Shelby county area. They also need to contribute to Habitat’s work and be able to pay a mortgage.
Additionally, Horstman said he looks for people who are working hard and doing things the right way.
Strunk has worked hard to regain control of her life.
The Sidney woman, who at one point was living in a car while battling drug and alcohol addiction, has been sober for more than four years – the best four years of her life. She works at Clopay and is a certified peer supporter through the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services.
“I’ve worked so much overtime,” she said. “Everything is brand new – my couch, my kitchen table, all the beds. I’ve worked so hard.”
Strunk plans to continue volunteering at the Habitat for Humanity ReStore. She also wants to volunteer at Agape Distribution in Sidney and help on future Habitat builds.
“I want to give back to the community, working at different places, like I said, Agape and the ReStore, and keep my bonds with everybody,” she said. “That was the best part about it. I met a lot of new people, a lot of good people.”
Horstman has four families in Miami and Shelby counties who have applied for housing assistance through Habitat for Humanity. Before construction can begin, they must demonstrate that they are a good fit for the program, and Habitat for Humanity has to secure a location to build a house and a sponsor to pay for the build.
“I think the world of them,” Strunk said of the people who work with Habitat for Humanity. “Who would do that for somebody they barely know? Because they believe in this foundation. They believe in Habitat so great that they’re going to pick somebody who they know is going to build a life. And I want to do that, and I want to help with the next house. I want to continue to help.”
More information about volunteering at Habitat for Humanity of Miami and Shelby Counties and information about receiving assistance is available by calling 937-332-3763 or visiting www.hfhmco.org.
Reach the writer at firstname.lastname@example.org or 937-538-4824.