Editor’s note: This story originally ran in the Friday, July 7, edition of the Chronicle-Tribune.
SWEETSER – Habitat for Humanity’s first Oak Hill area home is taking shape this week, making local woman a first-time homeowner.
But even as she watched her new home go from being a just foundation to having walls, Rosie Martinez said it still felt surreal.
“yesterday I came by and I saw a lot of the stuff going on,” Martinez said. “You’re waiting for it, but it just doesn’t seem real. Like this is really happening. And I’m looking at it, like, the walls are up. It just isn’t hitting me yet.”
The Habitat for Humanity volunteer Rhonda Smuck gave Martinez a tour of the newly-framed house.
The emotions hit, but Martinez’ smile was bigger than her tears.
“I have great friends. I have been blessed with meeting new people within the community that I didn’t know before,” Martinez said. “I have been able to attend other area churches that are a part of this, and I’ve been very welcome. It’s amazing to feel this welcome.”
Smuck said 50 people showed up to help frame the Sweetser house Thursday, the exact number needed for the day’s projects. The house is scheduled to be finished by July 14 with a dedication soon after.
CCI poured the foundation for the house in early June, and Maple Run Friends Church built the floor deck and joists, Smuck said. Each day during the construction blitz, a different area church is providing lunch and snacks for the volunteers
Martinez said seeing the community come together is overwhelming, but not unexpected.
“I’ve been a part of the Oak Hill community for many years, and I’ve always felt the love and the way they care for me in some of the hardest times for my girls and I have gone through,” she said. “It’s no surprise this community pulls together, and that’s what I love.”
Born in Mexico, Martinez immigrated to the U.S. as a child. She has raised her four daughters, Regina, Esmeralda, Gillian and Ivy, in Grant County. Last year, Martinez became a naturalized citizen.
“We’re all so proud of her,” Jennie Biggs, who goes to church with Martinez, said. “She’s raising these four girls on her own. She works with the ocurt systems and is an interpreter. She’s just a phenomenal lady, so it’s great to see everything that she has done.”
Volunteers came not only from Oak Hill area churches but also from the Grant County Sheriff’s Department, the Sweetser Police Department, the Sweetser Lion’s club and the Oak Hill United School Corporation.
Several Oak Hill High School seniors helped build the house’s walls in May as a part of their service project day. The walls were stored in the same Amboy facility used to build them, donated by Andrew King of CCI.
Incoming senior Caleb Middlesworth and his dad donated the use of the family’s trailer to transport the pre-built walls from Amboy to the build site in Sweetser.
“(Being a part of this) is great,” he said. “The end result is amazing with everybody helping. It’s going to be awesome.”
Habitat for Humanity’s construction chairman, Harold Smuck, said the volunteers have been working hard and the project is on schedule.
“Everything went … just like it was supposed to (this morning),” he said, adding that this project is special for more reasons than the community’s involvement.
“We’re not building it,” Harold Smuck said. “It’s being built by a higher power, and it’s being built for a very sweet, deserving lady.”
Habitat for Humanity is still accepting donations to cover the upfront costs of the Martinez home, and the community is invited to volunteer and help with the remainer of the blitz.
Information about the Sweetzer Blitz Build can be found on the project’s facebook page, www.facebook.com/sweetserblitzbuild.