By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN
BG Independent News
Two families who never believed they would be homeowners, were recently given keys to their new homes.
They are very different families. Olivia Rice grew up in Weston, in the same town where her Habitat for Humanity home was built. Love Ezell and Addam Currie are from Cleveland, Detroit and now Bowling Green, and will be living next door to Rice.
But they also share some fundamental similarities. They both dreamed of the day they would own a home, and they both look forward to raising their small children in their Habitat houses.
And both families recently gave strangers tours of their new homes and thanked people who they grew to know as they worked side-by-side on their houses.
“Without all of your help, we couldn’t be here right now,” Rice said, as she accepted the keys to her home. “Now I get to raise my son in this town that I grew up in.”
Currie also offered his family’s gratitude.
“Thank you for everyone’s efforts,” he said. “Thank you for all the blessings. I appreciate all of this.”
The homes are modest, but they are solid. They are in a good neighborhood and come with family support from Habitat for Humanity.
During the dedication of the two homes on Brooke Lane, the new homeowners were welcomed by Weston Village Council member Penny Taylor.
“Welcome to Weston,” Taylor said. “We love Weston, and what a day to celebrate – gorgeous weather and brand new neighbors.”
Donna Mertz, a Habitat volunteer, presented the families with Bibles that former volunteer Harriet Rosebrock made arrangements for before she passed away.
“You’ve been waiting a long time for this, haven’t you,” Mertz said to Ezell about her new home.
Ezell and Currie will share their home with their 2-year-old twins, Nia and Qadira. Though far different from her previous home in Detroit, Ezell said that Weston suits them just fine.
“I like the small town feel,” she said as she stood in one of her home’s bedrooms. “And you don’t have to constantly be worried about the landlord increasing the rent.”
Ezell works at Dollar General, and Currie works at DOWA. But without Habitat, the couple had little hope of ever affording their own home.
Rice was in the same situation. She works for Wood Lane Residential and has a 2-year-old son, Andrew McKee.
“I actually grew up in Weston,” Rice said as she pointed out how she is planning to arrange her kitchen, and how Andrew’s room will have a Mickey Mouse theme.
“I am excited,” she said. “Andrew’s going to have his own backyard to play in.”
“Not in a million years did I think I’d ever be able to afford a house,” Rice said.
But with the help of Habitat and its volunteers, the homes took shape. During the dedication, Mark Ohashi, executive director of Habitat for Humanity of Wood County, thanked the Good Samaritans who helped.
“I’m amazed at how many people had their hands in the project,” Ohashi said. “This is the case where too many cooks are a good thing.”
Many people have never had to question if they would have a safe place to live. But that’s not the case for many others.
“We all take decent housing for granted,” Ohashi said. “Together we’ve made decent and affordable housing available.”
“We see the labor, time, the money invested by so many Good Samaritans,” Ohashi said. “This is a safe place to call home for them and their families. You are the good neighbors.”
The two Weston homes were part of a Habitat for Humanity Homebuilders Blitz, when hundreds of homes are built across the U.S. in June.
“We’re excited to be a part of it,” Ohashi said.
State Rep. Theresa Gavarone, R-Bowling Green, said she delivered lunch to the workers on a recent weekend and couldn’t believe the progress on the homes over the week.
“I’m so amazed at what transpired in the past week,” she said.
In addition to Habitat volunteers, professional help on the homes came from: Ridge Stone Builders, Slaske Building Co., TruGreen, North Branch Nursery, Eric Palmer Trucking and Excavating, Palmer Brothers Concrete, C&L Sanitation, Dowling Steel, ThermaTru Doors, Ohio CAT, Ply Gem, Carter Lumber, Perrysburg Pipe, Nichols, Luxury Mechanical Systems, A&E Electric, Campbell Inc., GKN Driveline, Wells Fargo, A-Gas, TDG, The Countertop Shop, Executive Mechanical Inc., Bayview Electric, Tri County Block and Brick, and the Northwestern Water and Sewer District.