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Habitat presents home keys to family

Jim Farr (left), executive director of the St. Croix Valley Habitat for Humanity, presents Rachael Meyer with the keys to her new home in New Richmond. Meyer is surrounded by her excited daughters Kasee (right) and Brooke (left center) during Saturday's home dedication and key presentation ceremony.

It's been a nine-month waiting process, but a single-parent household saw their home ownership dream come true this week.

Rachael Meyer and her daughters, Kasee, 13, and Brooke, 10, took possession of their newly completed home on Rich River Way following a brief home dedication ceremony Saturday morning. The Meyer home is the fourth of seven Habitat for Humanity expects to build in New Richmond. The Habitat partnership with the community started in 2008.

The Meyers broke ground on their home last April, and since then an army of volunteers have been making progress toward the completion of the house. As part of the Habitat for Humanity effort, the Meyers were also required to invest significant sweat equity in the home, working side-by-side with the crews constructing the home.

"We are gathered together to celebrate the completion of this wonderful home which will provide the Meyer family shelter, safety and security in their lives ahead," St. Croix Habitat for Humanity President Dave Meier told those in attendance for the dedication. "We ask God's blessing to make this home a sanctuary of peace and happiness."

Meier thanked the many volunteers who made the home possible.

Jim Farr, the local Habitat chapter's executive director, said the site has been a "beehive of activity" for many months. He made a special note of the Andersen Corp. employee's "blitz" build effort during the summer months that really pushed the construction process forward.

"It's been a great journey," Farr said. "May you create a lot of life stories here."

Farr then presented Meyer and her daughters with the keys to the home. Meyer actually closed on the house on Monday and the family hopes to move in through this week.

"It's very, very exciting," Meyer said following the dedication. "It's been cool seeing this all come together.

The girls already have picked out their rooms and are trying to determine how to decorate and arrange their spaces.

"It's awesome," Brooke said.

"I love it," Kasee added.

Farr said the new home incorporates a number of "green" technologies that the local Habitat chapter is starting to place in all the homes that are constructed in St. Croix and Pierce counties. The goal of the newer New Richmond homes is that the structures will only take about $15 a month to heat during the winter.

"That puts more discretionary money into the family's pockets," he noted.

In fact, St. Croix Valley Habitat for Humanity plans to break ground in May on a new project in River Falls that will feature even more green technologies. The goal of the "Eco Village" project is to build homes that generate more energy than they use. To achieve that goal, solar energy panels are installed and homes are insulated so there is very little if any heat loss.

"The idea is for them to be environmentally sound, but also have a healthy internal environment," he said. "We're trying to be good stewards of our resources and integrate these things into all of our construction."

St. Croix Valley Habitat for Humanity is a local, non-profit, Christian housing organization in Pierce and St. Croix counties that is dedicated to helping people in need of affordable home ownership by enabling them to acquire simple, decent, homes.

So far, the chapter has completed 44 homes in 11 communities in St. Croix and Pierce counties. Three more homes are in the process of being completed and are expected to be dedicated in the spring.