Habitat holds dedication for local home renovation
By ELISA SAND, Staff Reporter
Construction has come to an end on West Ave., S. in Madison with the conclusion of the latest Habitat project.
This year's partner family with Habitat for Humanity of East Central South Dakota includes (back, left) Renae and Chris Palmlund and their children, Leah Tooker and Jesse and (front) Jeffrey Gulbranson. In the background is Merle Gulbranson.
Habitat for Humanity of East Central South Dakota dedicated a renovated home to this year's partner family, Renae and Chris Palmlund, who now hold a 30-year mortgage on the house.
This is the first time Habitat has taken on a renovation project with a partner family. Habitat Executive Director Gary Zay said completing the renovation project wasn't any easier than a construction project, but it made a difference in the total cost. As an example, there was no initial cost for utility installation.
Founded in 1999, East Central Habitat for Humanity serves Lake, Miner and Moody counties. Volunteers helped build the organization's first home in 2000 in Flandreau. The homes that followed have been built in Madison.
Following construction of each home, the partner families, who have worked alongside volunteers, sign a mortgage which is paid back to Habitat.
Habitat Board President Kevin Jaspers said the investment made by the homeowners is an in-kind mortgage that is forgiven over a 30-year time period.
"It's not free," Jaspers said. "We help the partner family with the home, and we try to find a home that can fit within their budget."
Jaspers said the project wouldn't have been possible without support and donations from numerous businesses, as well as the volunteers who helped on the project.
"It truly was a home built by this community," Jaspers said.
To accomplish this renovation project, Habitat obtained the house on West Ave., S. and partnered with Williams Brothers Construction to frame a 16x27-ft. addition for two bedrooms and a handicapped-accessible bathroom.
A volunteer team from Wells Fargo specifically helped re-paint the exterior of the home and garage.
Following interior renovation work, the final touch on the home was the completion of a handicapped-accessible ramp leading to the front door.
Of the three children living in the home, one is in a wheelchair. At their prior home, the family lived in an upstairs apartment where the teen climbed a set of stairs. In comparison, that same teen is now able to navigate the ramp outside the home by himself and go inside.
Choking back tears at the dedication on Saturday, Renae Palmlund thanked all the volunteers who came and helped.
"We've been trying for a really long time," she said. "We are really blessed."
Throughout the project, Zay commended the Palmlunds for their dedication on the project and the hours they had invested. Partner families are asked to invest at least 300 hours on each project.
Jaspers said the Palmlunds and their extended family had logged more than triple that amount with 1,100 hours invested.
"They have worked well into the night," Jaspers said, commenting on how the family is typically the last to leave at night and the ones who make sure everything is put away at the end of the day.
"What a great family," Jaspers said. "They are a very gracious family."
Madison Mayor Gene Hexom said the involvement and the partnerships on this project show community spirit.
"When we can gather as a community for this, it's a great day in Madison," Hexom said.
Hexom was involved with Habitat when it started in 1999 and finished its first house in 2000.
"Scott Parsley was my inspiration," Hexom said. "Big cities were doing great things."
Looking at yet another completed project through Habitat, Hexom said that projects like this make a community better.
"It's gratifying to be here and see Habitat continue," he said.