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Amy Jorgenson, left, and her friend, Kim Young, both of Mitchell, pound nails Saturday morning into what will eventually be the walls of Jorgenson's home, which is being built by Mitchell Regional Habitat for Humanity at 1004 E. First Ave. (Chris Mueller/Republic)
Amy Jorgenson, left, and her friend, Kim Young, both of Mitchell, pound nails Saturday morning into what will eventually be the walls of Jorgenson's home, which is being built by Mitchell Regional Habitat for Humanity at 1004 E. First Ave. (Chris Mueller/Republic)

Habitat family and volunteers raise walls

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Mitchell South Dakota 120 South Lawler 57301

For Amy Jorgenson and her family, the anticipation for their new home has been nonstop.

“Every day, we’re constantly talking about it,” Jorgenson said. “It’s exciting. It’s crazy.”

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Jorgenson and her three children — Sage, 13, Victoria, 10, and Fabian, 9 — were selected earlier this year as the family to live in a new home being built by Mitchell Regional Habitat for Humanity. The single-family home, located at 1004 E. First Ave., near Longfellow Elementary, is expected to be finished by late next spring.

On Saturday morning, Jorgenson and two of her three children put on hard hats and hammered a few nails before the walls of their new home were raised.

“To actually see the walls go up is really exciting,” she said. “We know now that progress is definitely being made and everything is moving forward.”

Jorgenson, a single mother who works as a resident assistant at Rosewood Court for Dakota Counseling Institute, and her children were selected out of more than 15 families who expressed interest in a home from Mitchell Habitat.

Jorgenson’s son, Fabian, has severe allergies and can suffer reactions from shampooed carpet, certain foods, dust and dander, and even grass. Before applying for a house through Mitchell Habitat, the family moved from Tripp to an apartment in Mitchell, in part to be closer to a doctor for Fabian.

Mitchell Habitat has been fundraising for the project since 2009, when the group’s last home was completed. That money will be used to pay for a portion of the supplies and labor involved in the home’s construction. Mitchell Habitat has built three homes in the area since 2001.

With the exception of the work done to install the foundation, construction of the home will be done entirely by volunteers, according to Lori Baye, copresident of Mitchell Habitat.

“We’re completely dependent upon volunteers,” Baye said. “So, it’s when we’re available, when we can get a group available, that’s when we can get it done.”

The goal, Baye said, is to finish the exterior walls and roof of the home before snow falls, which will allow work on the interior of the home to begin. As work on the walls began Saturday, Baye and other Mitchell Habitat officials and volunteers watched and worked with excitement.

“This is going to be awesome,” she said. “We didn’t think it was ever going to get here, and finally it’s here.”

Greg Neppl, an architectural design and building instructor at Mitchell Technical Institute, is working with Mitchell Habitat on the project.

“It’s not just about building a house,” Neppl said. “It’s about building a community and giving back.”

For Jorgenson and her family, the project has been an ongoing source of excitement and great anticipation.

“It’s an everyday topic that we talk about it,” she said. “If we’re not talking about it, we have other people in the community that talk to us about it.”

To see the home finished, Jorgenson said, will be priceless.

“There are going to be no words to describe it,” she said.

Though the home will be built almost entirely by volunteers, Jorgenson and her family don’t get it for free.

In all cases with Mitchell Habitat, the family selected actually gets a mortgage with zero percent interest, which pays for about half the cost of the home. The balance is a sweat-equity loan that is usually forgiven after 10 years as long as the homeowner makes the monthly payments, including taxes and insurance.

Families who apply for a home through Habitat for Humanity must pass a credit check and meet certain income requirements, which are based on median income rates, before they can be considered. For example, a family of four in Davison County must have an income of at least $17,200 per year, but no more than $28,700 per year, to be eligible.

Candidates are also required to be U.S. citizens and must pass a criminal background check.

Habitat for Humanity was founded in 1976 in Americus, Ga., and has since helped build or repair more than 600,000 homes worldwide.

Anybody interested in volunteering with Mitchell Habitat can call 996-9068 or email habitat@santel.net.

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