A house on Victor Drive in Eastlake has finally become a home.
After months of processes, including application, acquisition, planning, construction and training, Lake-Geauga Habitat for Humanity has dedicated its 90th home, the second in Eastlake in two years.
With about 50 people huddled in the new driveway, the recipient of the home, Noelle, who requested her last name be withheld, extended eternal gratitude to all who supported her family through the nearly year-long process.
“To all the volunteers and everyone involved with Habitat, I’m so excited — I can’t wait to cut grass,” she said to roaring laughter. “It’s really more than just a house to us, it’s a new beginning. Thank you so very much.”
Annette Pillar, Noelle’s homeowner support person, also thanked crucial team members, including Executive Director William Meyer, and Tom Moravec, the organization’s Lake County construction supervisor.
“The distance between your dreams and reality is action, and I think there has been a lot of action that’s occurred for all of us to be here for Noelle’s dream today,” Pillar said. “We thank everyone, including our volunteers who put in so many hours and hard work.”
While Meyer stood next to Noelle, he told the crowd home dedications are always enjoyable events.
“Our volunteers think of this as their payday,” he said. “We are proud of the fact we have such a high ratio of volunteers and paid staff. This is the largest crowd for a dedication we’ve ever had in either Lake or Geauga. These days become memories for all of us.”
Lake-Geauga Habitat for Humanity is a nonprofit, ecumenical Christian housing ministry dedicated to building and rehabilitating simple, decent and affordable homes in partnership with homebuyers in need in Lake and Geauga counties.
The organization’s mission is one of empowerment and independence, with nothing whatsoever “given away,” despite consistent misinformation to the contrary, said Denise Sanzo, marketing and digital communications manager.
“Noelle and her family have earned this opportunity,” Sanzo added. “We always say, ‘This isn’t a handout, but a hand up.’ She did everything right and was approved. Noelle took a very courageous step for her and her family. This day, the day we dedicate, is the best part of our jobs.”
In the months prior to the dedication, every recipient receives financial and home maintenance training classes through the organization. The selected homeowners also perform 400 hours of “sweat equity” during the project, and are required to complete 100 of the assigned hours prior to a property being sought.
Eastlake Council Vice President Michael Zuren also thanked the organization for its continuous work and efforts.
“Lake-Geauga Habitat for Humanity is an absolute wonderful resource in our city,” he said. “We’re so grateful that they’re here. In whatever way we can support this wonderful organization, we will. Congratulations to Noelle and her family.”
As the throng toured Noelle’s new home, Kathleen Munch, Lake-Geauga Habitat for Humanity’s director of development, smiled in satisfaction.
“From application to this day, it’s been a journey for us all,” she said. “I was here when the frame went up; I helped install the walls and we all felt the same sense of passion, love and dignity then. This is a great day for Noelle and her family. Now, our mission continues to raise money for our next home and make more dreams come true.”