Habitat for Humanity Waterloo groundbreaking

Future homeowner Kimberly Wilson, center, prepares to break ground for her new Habitat for Humanity house in Waterloo. At left is the project manager, Luke Yoder of Yoder Construction LLC in Angola. At right is Senior Pastor Ralph Diehl of New Hope Christian Center in Waterloo.

WATERLOO — Kimberly Wilson patiently spent five years waiting for Saturday, when Habitat for Humanity of Northeast Indiana officially began construction of her new home.

On a sunny, crisp morning, Wilson grabbed a shovel for a groundbreaking ceremony at 295 W. Maple St. in Waterloo, where a three-bedroom ranch house will become her address.

Wilson said she applied to Habitat in 2016, when she was “struggling with finding a decent home to live in.”

“I believed in God’s timing this whole time,” Wilson said. “There’s times when I wish it could have been done sooner, but I’ve just trusted in God’s timing, and He’s led me through this journey, so I’m very thankful for it.”

Habitat needed patience, too. The pandemic prevented the local chapter from building a home last year, said Marianne Stanley, executive director of Habitat for Humanity of Northeast Indiana.

Now, Stanley can chalk off the first of three homes Habitat intends to build this year in the three counties the local chapter serves — DeKalb, Noble and Steuben.

Later this year, Habitat will partner with the Impact Institute vocational school to build a home on Newnam Avenue in Kendallville, using land donated by the city government.

“I’m over the moon excited about that,” Stanley said.

Plans also call for building a home in Wolcottville on an undisclosed site.

“We are looking for a lot in Angola” that is suitable for building, Stanley added.

Since the local chapter was founded in 1994, it has built 68 homes in the three counties it serves in its mission to eliminate poverty housing.

“We seek to put God’s love in action,” Stanley told two dozen people who gathered for Saturday’s groundbreaking southwest of downtown Waterloo.

“Today, we’re going to begin something really exciting. We’re going to start this home on the foundation of prayer,” said Senior Pastor Ralph Diehl of New Hope Christian Center in Waterloo.

Stanley thanked the project’s sponsors: PNC Bank, The James Foundation and Yoder Construction.

“Your donation is changing lives forever,” she said.

For her part to qualify for a home, Wilson completed 350 hours of “sweat equity” donated time and completed a money management course. She will pay for her home through a mortgage with an affordable financing plan.

When it couldn’t build a house last year, the local Habitat chapter built 23 handicap-access ramps at no charge to homeowners, Stanley said.

Habitat also offers interest-free loans for critical repairs such as roofs and furnaces. The local chapter has applied for 16 forgivable grants to pay for home repairs totaling $244,000 through the Federal Home Loan Bank at Indianapolis.

“One guy that I helped hadn’t had heat for three years,” Stanley said. “He started crying when he was approved.”

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