No place like home for the holidays
Everybody needs a home. Unfortunately there are still many Americans who are without one this holiday season, but not the Chambers family, whose new home was officially dedicated in a ceremony by the Steele-Waseca chapter of Habitat for Humanity on Saturday.
A ceremonial key was given along with a donations check, and presents were handed out to the family, who now get to spend the holidays in their new home.
Construction of the home began in June when they broke ground on the property. Habitat for Humanity worked closely with the Catholic Daughters of America on this project, which also saw a bevy of volunteers from the community.
Lori Mickelson, from the Catholic Daughters, says that “every family deserves a beautiful home to live in, especially during the holiday season,” a time when tradition and memories are important for a young family.
The Catholic Daughters helped raise money for the project by giving away Gummy Bears in exchange for donations from the public, which poured in at a high rate and were gifted to Habitat for Humanity. Mickelson says that the community “has been awesome.”
Mickelson explained that “people stepped up, not only in Owatonna but also Medford, Waseca, and even a few volunteers from Faribault.” According to Mickelson, the community was very welcoming and helpful, volunteering their time and energy as well as food and other amenities if they were unable to aid in the actual building process. Proud of their accomplishment, she said, “It’s important for a family, especially one with young children, to have a safe and welcoming home.”
Pat Heydon, executive director of the Steele-Waseca area Habitat for Humanity, said that they are one of 30 affiliates in the state of Minnesota. Although the Steele- Waseca chapter usually is only able to help roughly one family a year, overall the program has impacted around 300 families statewide. They aid with both the building of homes as well as repair and assistance. The number internationally is somewhere around 1.2 million families impacted, according to Heydon.
As the director, Heydon feels that it is vitally important for a family to have a home, and that all Americans deserve a safe and affordable place to live. She is grateful for the help from volunteers as well as organizations like the Catholic Daughters, who she said were “phenomenal” in the process.
“It takes a community to build a home, and that’s the part that’s so exciting,” Heydon said.
The home owners, Calvin and Dessa Chambers, and their four kids, are also grateful. Dessa says that it will feel good to be settled and have a home. She also admits that she is excited “to cook and have space” and is looking forward to decorating for the holidays now that they have a new home in which to put their tree, and hang their lights.
Dessa said that it was a two year process, but that they didn’t experience any difficulty along the way. According to Dessa, her and Calvin “had our ducks in a row” and were already looking for a home when they found Habitat for Humanity willing to help in this process.
Calvin appreciates all the hard work and effort from volunteers. He says that the volunteers did “an excellent job” and that they “take pride in their work and what they’re doing.”
Just like his wife, Calvin is excited to celebrate the holidays in a new home. He said he finally feels as if his family is settled and agrees with Heydon, reiterating that “everyone should have somewhere to call their own.”
A 2015 survey done by the Minnesota Homeless Study along with Wilder Research, found that there are roughly 9,312 homeless adults, children or youth in Minnesota, a number which has actually gone down 9 percent from the previous study, done in 2012. This holiday season is a great opportunity for Americans to give back, and to help other members of the community.
Habitat for Humanity, along with the Catholic Daughters, and the many volunteers from around the community, have done their best in ensuring that the Chambers family always has a place here and feels welcome.
And now they have a warm home to spend the holiday season.