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Solon’s first Habitat house becomes a home

SOLON– “You know, think what this lot looked like, even six months ago,” said Pastor Carol Kress of the Solon United Methodist Church. “Pretty darn amazing.”
Kress, Pastor Dennis Arnold of Our Lord’s Church and Father Jim Vrba of St. Mary Catholic Church led the blessing of the new Solon Habitat for Humanity house. The Dubuque Street house was dedicated Tuesday, Oct. 23, and the keys were ceremoniously presented to the new owners, Kurt and Vicki Shover, and their son Chanse.
Family, friends, volunteers and Habitat staff gathered with other members of the community, crowded into the Shovers’ new but unfurnished living room.
“Look at what we’ve gained that’s even better than a structure,” said Jay Proffitt after the blessing. “Teamwork. Working hand in hand to complete a job. A lesson in sharing and giving of our time, talents and financial support. And most importantly, we have gained new friends, a new family and a new neighbor.”
After the blessings of the three church leaders, representatives of various non-profits and individuals presented small gifts to the Shover family.
“I don’t know where to start,” Vicki Shover said when it was time for the family to speak. “I can’t thank everyone enough for their donations. For the entire community, for everybody that did anything, however minor however huge, we are so appreciative and thankful and humbled.”
“Through the whole process, I’m thinking I’m doing my (sweat equity) hours for my house,” said Kurt. “Well, when it comes to our house, the volunteers are showing up at my house. I was helping them with their house like you guys all came together for my house.”
An affiliate of Habitat for Humanity International, a nonprofit, ecumenical Christian housing ministry, the Iowa Valley chapter picked the Shover family to become the first Solon Habitat partner family in 2011.
Planning for the Solon house started Dec. 1, and since then, a Solon committee has been raising money for the remainder of the property, furnishings and fixtures, expected to run about $35,000. About $7,000 remains to be generated in donations.
“We’re going to sign papers with these people to sell them the house, we don’t give them the house, we’re not ‘Extreme Makeover,” said Mark Patton, Executive Director of Iowa Valley Habitat for Humanity. “We sell them the house with a 20 or 25 year mortgage but it has no interest. And the no-interest is what makes it affordable.”
Each adult family member is required to put in 250 hours of sweat equity, Patton said. According to Patton, a typical Habitat home costs about $125,000. Some of that cost (about $5,000) goes toward making the house as energy efficient and healthy as possible. Habitat utilizes 2x6 studs for framing the house and fills the walls with 5 1/2 inches of blown insulation.
Interest in a Solon Habitat home began in 2005 when local residents began fundraising efforts, including an annual Christmas tree decorating contest at the Solon Public Library. The eighth annual contest is currently open, with entry sheet and rules available at the library now until Nov. 12.
For more information about Iowa Valley Habitat for Humanity, go to www.iowavalleyhabitat.org or call 319-337-8949.