WABASH, Ind. (WANE) – The Wabash County chapter of Habitat for Humanity celebrated a major milestone this weekend. It dedicated its first house of the year Sunday afternoon at 425 Miner Street in Wabash for the Gallimore family.
“This is a coming together of all the volunteers, all the sponsors, all the donors, all the friends and family that have worked so hard to bring this dream and this hope to a reality of home ownership for Thomas, Victoria, and Austin,” Wabash County Habitat for Humanity Executive Director Steve Miller said.
For the last five years, Thomas and Victoria Gallimore and their two-year-old son Austin have lived in a small apartment. They had to pay rent for a space they could never truly call their own. Sunday, they got the keys to their very first home and with it, opened the door to their new life as homeowners.
“To get out of a small apartment and actually get into some place where there’s a lot of room and there’s actually some place for our son to play. I don’t think there are enough words to describe how happy we are,” Thomas Gallimore said.
The Gallimores first partnered with Habitat for Humanity last December.
“All Habitats around the world have three basic criteria they look at when they’re seeking partners to build affordable homes with. That is the need for housing, the ability to repay the loan, and the willingness to partner,” Miller said.
Partner families have to complete 300 hours of work before they can get their home. Those can be split between construction on their house and helping other families in the program.
“Framing, painting, trimming, just everything was a new learning experience for all of us,” Thomas Gallimore said. “Demo- I like tearing out the walls. Demo is probably the best thing ever. There’s a lot of nights that were just a lot of fun and getting stuff done and it was just a lot of fun more than anything, really.”
The Gallimore’s home is different from a typical Habitat project. Originally built in 1992 for another partner family, the home is considered a “Recycle Build” in the Habitat world. The first homeowners moved out of state, and wanted to give the house back to Habitat.
“When I talked to her about possibly selling it on the market, even though the market was slow, she said no, I really want to give it back. It was a blessing for my family and my children as they grew up and I would like to make this a blessing for another family,” Miller said.
During the last few months, the home has gotten an updated heating and cooling and plumbing system, new steel roof, and minor floor plan changes.
“The steel roof will last forever, whereas your asphalt shingles, 25-30 years, you need to replace them. So, it’s that affordability long-term. As long as they take care of their home, it’s going to take care of them,” Miller said.
Since the Gallimores are youth pastors for their church, Habitat remodeled parts of the house to be more open to fit larger groups.
“Just to be able to have a place where we can gather them all in one spot and have bonfires or whatever. Just some place where they can come and hang and actually have room to hang out at, other than the church building,” Thomas said. “Words just can’t describe how grateful and thankful we are to be able to do this. It was a long journey, but it was a fun learning journey, and we’re just glad that today is here.”
Indiana is the 7th largest building state for Habitat chapters across the country. The Wabash County Habitat chapter is hoping to build a second home for a family later in the year.
“Habitat is a unique organization in that we’re a Christian ministry first and foremost, a social service agency, a construction company, and a mortgage company,” Miller said. “It’s not a giveaway. It’s a hand up, not a hand out. They pay for what they get.”