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Habitat for Humanity holds housewarming in Harmony

Fri, Jun 21st, 2013
Posted in Harmony Features

Megan Grebe, with homebuyer Teri Root and family in the background, speaks to the crowd at the housewarming. Photo by Barb Jeffers

By Barb Jeffers

The population of Harmony, Minn. has grown by six. On Monday, June 17, 2013 a housewarming was held for Harmony’s newest residents. Habitat for Humanity Winona-Fillmore County invited volunteers, Habitat for Humanity representatives, and members of the community to gather with the homebuyer, Teri Root, and her children for a housewarming in their new home at 165 Niagara Court in Harmony.

The Root Family Housewarming began at 5:30pm with a Welcome by Megan Grebe who is the Community Outreach Development Coordinator for Habitat for Humanity Winona-Fillmore Counties. Megan thanked the many volunteers who worked on the home “through mud, rain, snow, and sunshine,” she said. A huge recognition and thank you was also given to Todd Himlie who “started it all” by coming to Megan with the idea of building a home in Harmony, Megan stated. Megan added, “Todd Himlie was the reason we are here,” which drew vigorous applause from all in attendance.

An opening prayer was given by Pastor Dennis Timmerman of Our Saviors Lutheran Church of Spring Valley, Minn. followed by the introduction of special guests including board members and committee members.

Homeowner Teri Root spoke with raw emotion saying thank you to everyone involved in helping her and her family realize their dream of purchasing a home of their own. Teri stated to be able to give her kids the opportunity to come back here (to Harmony) is an amazing thing and said tearfully, “Thank you very, very much from the bottom of all our hearts - we really appreciate it,” as her children stood with her in front of the crowd.

A House Blessing was then given by Reverend Betsy Dartt of Greenfield Lutheran Church of Harmony. Gifts were then presented to the Root family including a quilt made for them by a group of women, homemade bread, a cookbook, and other thoughtful items for the new homeowner.

A Symbolic Mortgage was presented, as well as a Tithe presentation. Megan Grebe explains the Tithe in the following way: “Habitat for Humanity is an ecumenical Christian Organization. As the church gives a portion of what has been given to you plays through in the Habitat organization as well. Habitat is a worldwide organization and many places where we build in the world the resources are not available locally. So for every two houses that we build in Winona and Fillmore Counties, we tithe enough money to Habitat Mexico to build one house there.” Thursday, June 20, 2013 was the dedication for Habitat for Humanity Winona-Fillmore Counties 48th house locally so as an affiliate they have built 48 homes here and 24 in Mexico.

Following a closing prayer by Rev. Kristin Rice from First Presbyterian Church and Trinity Fellowship ELCA in Rushford, Minn. the crowd gathered outside for a meal of brats, hotdogs, chips, and floats. The weather for this community celebration was beautiful which seemed appropriate with the joy being shared by all in attendance.

The Housewarming brings to an end a 14 month journey for everyone involved in the Habitat for Humanity build. According to Megan Grebe, “It took a lot of people to build this house including college and high school groups, as well as church groups, individuals, and businesses from all over the area who volunteered their time, talents, supplies, and monetary donations to make the new home a reality for Teri and her family.” Over 3,750 volunteer hours are donated to each Habitat home and 89 percent of every dollar given to Habitat goes directly to build a house for a family in need.

Teri has worked hard to help on the house completing over 300 hours of “sweat equity,” which is one criteria of Habitat for Humanity homebuyers. Teri has also learned a lot stating that when the house construction first began she “couldn’t honestly pound a nail” and has done many types of work in the past 14 months on the house in order to give her family the home they deserve.

Teri stated, “Having the house complete is pretty surreal to say the least and is extremely overwhelming.” She and her children are anxious to move in after closing on the house in a couple weeks.

The children include Haven, 9, Aalyiah, 6, Teahya, 4, Tatum, 3, and Tannen, 2. Aalyiah is very excited to move into her bedroom which is painted appropriately for a little girl in pink and purple.

Habitat for Humanity Winona-Fillmore Counties is a non-profit, ecumenical grassroots Christian ministry. According to their handout from the housewarming their primary goal is “to eliminate sub-standard housing and homelessness by partnering with community members to construct simple, decent and affordable homes,” which is a goal that was reached with abundant success in Harmony. Habitat for Humanity has been cited by Worth Magazine as one of “America’s Best 100 Charities,” which is a high honor for the organization.

Many various groups worked together to create the Habitat for Humanity home for Teri Root and her children. From Habitat for Humanity Winona-Fillmore Counties Board of Directors, Board Members, Fillmore County Advisory Committee, Harmony Steering Committee, and Rushford Steering Committee, to the list of other organizations, businesses, churches, schools, cities, banks, individuals, etc. There are too numerous to list individually but to say there were many would be an understatement.

According to Megan Grebe, one of the biggest misconceptions about Habitat for Humanity is that we give houses away. We actually sell them to the homeowners financed for 30 years no-interest, and they must meet other criteria such as the 300 hours of sweat equity Teri Root performed on her home. Homeowner monthly payments are used to build more Habitat homes.

Habitat for Humanity has other programs including A Brush with Kindness, which performs minor exterior home repairs for low-income homeowners. Megan Grebe states, “We have two homes in Harmony and one in Lanesboro and 12 in Winona that we will be working on this summer and fall,” which will be a big help to those homeowners. For more information on Habitat for Humanity Winona-Fillmore Counties phone (507) 457-0003 or go to

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