ST. PARIS – Melanie Blankenship will receive the keys to a new home Oct. 28, courtesy of the volunteers of Habitat for Humanity of Champaign County Ohio (HFHCCO). The 1,100-square-foot, three-bedroom house will be presented to her and her three children at a dedication ceremony at the build site, 517 S. Church St., St. Paris.
“I’ve been blessed by meeting and being able to work with an amazing group,” Blankenship said. “HFHCCO along with many organizations, community members and businesses have changed our lives. Our home was built by hundreds of loving and unselfish people who wanted to help someone else and asked for nothing in return. I wish everyone had the opportunity to experience this kindness. I will never be able to thank everyone enough.”
Blankenship works at Eurofins Scientific as the lab coordinator for a grain inspection lab and has three children. Her oldest, Lela, graduated from The Ohio State University and lives in Hilliard. Macey is a senior and Braden is a freshman at Graham High School. She said she always has wanted a home of her own.
According to HFHCCO board member Marcia Ward, Habitat for Humanity housing applicants must have lived in the county at least one year, have a job and be willing to pay the interest-free mortgage. Following the pre-application a more in-depth process confirms information. Applicants must be willing to put in 250 sweat equity hours building the house.
“The application process was a lot more in-depth then I expected,” Blankenship said. “I filled out a pre-application and attended an orientation where I was given the application. It had to be filled out and returned by a deadline. Along with it I also had to provide verification of residency for the last 12 months, income verification for two months, all three credit reports, last two years of W2’s, last six months of rent receipts, last two months of bank statements for checking and savings accounts, and a background check. They also did a home visit to see where the kids and I currently live.
“HFHCC expects the home owner to put in 250 sweat equity hours,” she continued. “Half are able to be donated by volunteers who help at the builds. I have been at every Saturday build but one and I hated not being there, but I had to work on that day. I have spent lots of time picking out tiling, cabinets, fixtures, appliances, and anything that Habitat was willing to let me do I did. I figured if there were community schools, businesses and organizations willing to donate their time and talents to the kids and I, I needed to be doing anything and everything I could. The kids and I along with my parents have spent time throughout the week finishing the hardwood flooring, grouting tile, cleaning up and recycling all the trash, basically anything I was asked to do.”
Blankenship was able to decide certain details for herself, including having barn beams from her grandparents’ barn supporting the front porch. Outdoor Oasis, LLC installed a back patio as a gift from the business owner, who Blankenship describes as a family friend.
“I’m pretty excited about the whole house,” she said. “I was able to pick out a lot of things and add my personal touches. HFHCC will be seeing me and my family supporting them in any way we possibly can in the future.”
This house was built over the course of nine months, from March to October, using all volunteer build crews. Dennis Dill donated the labor for the painting.
HFHCCO has selected the site of its 10th anniversary house. Construction begins next year at 517 S. Main St. in Urbana. Ward encouraged people to apply for this house; pre-applications are available at the ReStore, 955 N. Main. For more information, visit www.habitatchampaigncountyohio.org.
Christopher Selmek can be reached at 937-652-1331