JACKSON CENTER — Dozens of friends, family members and volunteers gathered, Tuesday, Aug. 9, to dedicate and celebrate the new house at 107 N. Birch St., here.
The structure is the first to be built by Habitat for Humanity of Miami and Shelby Counties since the organizations in each county merged in 2015. It was built in record time, thanks to financial and volunteer support by Airstream Inc., Hoying and Hoying Builders Inc. and some 45 other area businesses.
Kara Mullen, of Sidney, and her three children will close on the property and assume a 20-year, interest-free mortgage today.
“A Habitat dedication is the culmination of countless volunteer man-hours whose sole purpose is to make housing affordable for everyone,” said Habitat President John Schweser. “At Habitat, we live for this. Simply put, we build. We build homes. We build community, and we build hope. This is a home for Kara — a home she’s not going to pay rent on but a home she’s going to pay a mortgage on and make an investment in her future.”
Mollie Hansen, vice president of marketing at Airstream, recognized her fellow employees who had performed 945 hours of work on the house.
“For every hour that someone was here, someone was at the plant covering for that person,” she said. “We’re really proud that we could help a deserving family. We build products to enable people to live their dreams. It’s nice to be able to do something locally and really watch our efforts help such a great family as the Mullens.”
Construction began in May and what usually takes about 18 months to complete was done in four. Paul Hoying, president of Hoying and Hoying Builders, served as project manager. Horstman credited him.
“It is beyond comparison to anything we’ve done in the past,” Horstman said. “We’ve never had a house built in four months. I put it at the feet of our construction manager, Paul Hoying. All kinds of kudos go to Paul and those contributing partners.”
The 1,320-square-foot, four-bedroom home has two bathrooms and a one-car garage. Horstman told the Sidney Daily News that the garage is a first for Habitat for Humanity of Miami County. Previous homes built by the organization in Miami County did not include garages; however, a house constructed by the Shelby County organization about a decade ago has a garage.
“So we put one on this house,” he said. Major funding, besides the $80,000 Airstream contribution, came from C.H.I.P. Shelby County and Bill and Sandy Johnjulio-Alumapalooza.
Tuesday’s ceremony was a homecoming of sorts for Mullen.
She grew up in Jackson Center. Mayor Scott Klopfenstein welcomed her back.
“We built a new school for you, too,” he laughed.
Mullen’s mother, Darla Mullen, now lives in Celina, but works at Airstream, so she’s in Jackson Center on work days. It was happenstance that an Airstream employee was a close family member of the Habitat recipient. But Darla, who upholsters window and wall panels at the travel trailer company, said she thought it was “fantastic.” She helped at the house, but not during her shifts at Airstream.
She was among the family members and friends who donated 94 hours of labor to the construction effort. Kara put in 315 hours. Others who contributed sweat equity were Village of Jackson Center/Bruce Metz, 150 hours; Paul Hoying, 90 hours; Hoying and Hoying Builders, 68 hours; Barhorst Woodworking Inc., 50 hours; Wells Brothers Inc. and Habitat for Humanity of Miami and Shelby Counties, 40 hours each; RFWoehrmyer Concrete, 28 hours; Dave Naseman, 20 hours; Bride Street, 10 hours; and Kah Nursery, 9 hours.
“A whole bunch of people you’ve never met returned here on a daily basis to build this house, and boy have they done a terrific job,” Jeff Raible, president of the Sidney-Shelby County Chamber of Commerce, told Mullen in front of the onlookers. “These special people have now become members of your extended family, and today they present you with the keys to this new house, which will now become the new home for your immediate family. This house stands as a physical representation of this wonderful community — a community where residents and businesses join together, give selflessly of their time and generously of their income, always persevering to make it a better place.”
Dr. Reece Nickol, a Habitat board member, introduced Mullen and her family to the crowd.
“I think they’re going to be good homeowners. These people are going to be an asset to the community,” he said.
Hoying presented Mullen with keys to her new home.
“Back in May, we promised we’d do a good job for you,” he said to her. “I hope we did. I hope you enjoy it.”
Mullen could not keep back the tears.
“It’s overwhelming to see everyone, to see the love and support we have as a family. We are excited to make memories here — and probably a whole lot of messes,” she said.
To close the proceedings, Horstman asked everyone to touch the house or to touch someone else who was touching the house, so that the whole crowd could participate in blessing this new dwelling and its occupants.
“One of the things that makes a house a home is faith,” said Alan Leach, pastor of the Connection Point Church of God, before he presented a Bible to Mullen and led the group in prayer.
Airstream offered cookies and commemorative drinking glasses to attendees as they toured the house following the ceremony.
Reach the writer at 937-538-4824.