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Habitat for Humanity provides new home for Mitchell family, following a house fire

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Mark Grebner, left, and Mike Asmus work on the flooring for the latest Mitchell Area Habitat for Humanity home being built along South Kimball Street in Mitchell. (Matt Gade / Republic)

After a devastating fire destroyed his home a little over a year ago, Lyle Miller Sr. and his family have been living out of a hotel.

Faced with the hardship of adapting to life without the home that he and his family have resided in for the past decade, the Miller family has endured through struggles this past year. But that all changed when Mitchell Regional Habitat for Humanity selected Miller Sr.’s application to become the organization's newest homeowner, which broke ground Saturday.

“It’s hard to put this into words. Something spiritual is going on here,” an emotional Miller Sr. said standing in front of the 1216 S. Kimball St. lot where his new home will be built. “My family and I have been through a lot of suffering this past year, and this has been a true gift of hope. I can’t say enough great things about Habitat for Humanity.”

For Anessa Klumb, executive director of Mitchell Regional Habitat for Humanity, Miller Sr.’s story of perseverance inspired the selection of his application. He was among four applications recently received.

Given the challenges the family has been working to overcome since being displaced from their home, Klumb said witnessing the powerful moment of informing Miller Sr. that he was chosen as this year’s new Habitat homeowner was moving.

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“Lyle (Miller) was so passionate about this opportunity, and his application just stood out right away,” Klumb said. “He and his family have been through a lot. We looked at all the applications equally, but we are proud to be building this home for Lyle and his family.”

After losing his wife to cancer in 2006, Miller Sr., an Army veteran and local artist, has been raising his young daughter and two grandchildren.

“I would not have had this opportunity to have a new home without this organization of great people,” Miller Sr. said. “I’m very thankful to be able to raise my family in a home again.”

The Native American artist eagerly awaits to have another studio space where he can dive back into his craft and love for painting.

As volunteers broke ground on the home Saturday morning, Klumb said the construction of the home is expected to be completed within a year to 18 months.

Habitat homes are built by the hands of volunteers who come together to turn an aspiring homeowner's dream into reality. The construction of Habitat homes are provided by the organization’s volunteers at no cost to the homeowner, but homeowners are responsible for the mortgage payments. Through its partnerships, Habitat offers an affordable mortgage for its homeowners that is within their financial means.

Mike Asmus has been one of those local volunteers who has helped build a number of Habitat homes in Mitchell. As a longtime contractor, Asmus channeled his construction skills to bring the Habitat for Humanity program to Mitchell roughly roughly 20 years ago.

While Asmus briefly stepped away from his leadership role with the nonprofit organization, the mission of providing a home for a family in need led him back to serving as a Habitat construction manager.

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“It’s not just about building the house and getting it sold to an owner, it’s about teaching them how to take care of their property and have pride in their new home,” Asmus said. “This is a great organization with a great mission.”

The nonprofit organization has a national footprint, with chapters in every state across the country. The Miller house will mark the eighth home that Mitchell’s Habitat for Humanity has constructed in the city.

Due to COVID-19, Klumb said the maximum number of volunteer builders who can be on site at one time is capped at 10. Volunteers are also following additional safety precautions such as bringing their own tools when possible, along with wearing face masks that are optional and provided on site. Considering Klumb is in the midst of her first year at the helm of Mitchell’s Regional Habitat for Humanity, she’s already been moved by the impact the organization has on the community.

“I didn’t feel like what I was doing in the past had as much meaning as this. But seeing how people's lives are changed with this is so meaningful, and I’m proud to be a part of it,” Klumb said.

Related Topics: CORONAVIRUS
Sam Fosness joined the Mitchell Republic in May 2018. He was raised in Mitchell, S.D., and graduated from Mitchell High School. He continued his education at the University of South Dakota in Vermillion, where he graduated in 2020 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor in English. During his time in college, Fosness worked as a news and sports reporter for The Volante newspaper.
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