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Habitat dedicates Mishawaka home

Drew Pangraze | Monday, April 16, 2012

The Notre Dame Campus Chapter of Habitat for Humanity celebrated another year of hard work in building a home for a family in need at the dedication of the completed house in Mishawaka, Ind., this weekend.  

Jim Williams, executive director of Habitat for Humanity of St. Joseph County, presided over the April 14 dedication, which included prayers and presentation of gifts to the Cole family, who plans to move into their new home by the end of the month.

Notre Dame student volunteers put in the majority of work on the house, which took more than a year to complete. Student leaders of the Notre Dame Habitat attended the house blessing, including president Ian Graham.  

“It’s a great feeling to see the finished product,” Graham said.  “There’s a lot of work and caring that went into the house from all the students that were a part of this.”

Graham said he estimates a total of 100 to 200 Notre Dame students contributed to the project, with 30 to 40 volunteers participating in weekly construction activities, including cabinet and fixture construction, framing, roofing, installation of windows and doors, insulating, painting, trimming and siding.

“To see the family that we worked with throughout the entire year today with a new place to stay means a lot to us,” Graham said.  “We’re grateful to have been able to help.”

House recipient Starla Cole spoke at the dedication ceremony, and voiced her gratitude for the support from Habitat for Humanity.  

“We could never have done this on our own,” Starla Cole said.  “Habitat helped.”

Her husband, Toby Cole, said the path to home-ownership was difficult, but the Notre Dame chapter of Habitat helped make owning a home a reality for his family.

“For one reason or another, we always ran into roadblocks when trying to have our own house,” Cole said.  “We’re ecstatic about this house, and thankful for the help from Habitat and the Notre Dame students.”

Williams said it is a misconception that Habitat for Humanity simply gives away free houses to needy families.  The organization helps the family to construct the house and supply the initial building funds, but the family is expected to pay off all mortgage payments in the future.  However, the houses are built at no profit, and interest is not charged.

The Notre Dame chapter contributed $40,000 to the initial funding for the home through donations and fundraising, Graham said.

“A lot of money came from alumni donations,” Graham said.  “A lot also came from fundraising events like Jail n’ Bail and the Polar Bear Run.”

Graham said the Coles took an active role in the construction of their new home, and Toby Cole often helped student volunteers on build days. The couple also attended homeowner classes as part of the Habitat for Humanity program, Cole said.

“We put 400 hours into the classes,” he said.  “We learned how to build a home, how to manage it, how to take care of it. It was educational and fun at the same time.”