Making a house a home

Dedications took place Sunday afternoon for two new Seneca Habitat for Humanity homes on Third Avenue in Tiffin. About 20 people attended the ceremony to congratulate the new owners, Challie Briihl and Crystal Smith.

Habitat Board Vice President Tammy Sessions presided at the event and asked long-time builder Glenn Ritzenthaler to offer remarks. He pointed out that Briihl’s home was the first-ever “blitz build” for Seneca Habitat. Local contractors and their crews converged at the site last summer. Ritzenthaler said the brief time frame did not affect the quality of the work.

“In one day, they put that up and had it under roof … I checked it out and everything is plumb and square and beautiful,” Ritzenthaler said.

Habitat member Don Loving did the actual dedication. He emphasized that the skills of many people were utilized to complete the houses, including officials of the City of Tiffin, donors, builders, church members who provide lunches and volunteers who work with the partner families during the construction process and beyond.

“It’s a cooperative effort … based on partnerships,” Loving said.

Each homeowner was presented with a Bible and housewarming gifts. Sessions told the crowd both women had done their own interior painting in colors of their choice. Everyone was invited to view their handiwork and have cookies and punch.

“They worked very hard individualizing these homes and they’ve done a very nice job,” Sessions said.

Smith said she is pleased with the location because she has friends and relatives living in the neighborhood. She chose earth tones for the kitchen and living rooms with brighter pastels for her daughters’ rooms. She also added shutters to accent the exterior.

Because the family had moved three times in the past, Smith is looking forward to the stability of a “home base” where her children can grow up. She plans to add a pool and a patio in the future. Working on the construction and finish work taught her new skills to maintain the dwelling.

“It really makes you appreciate your house,” she said, “and I have tools now, which I never had before.”

Next door, the Briihl residence has the same black kitchen appliances as the Smith home, but the walls in the common areas are a brilliant red outlined with ivory trim. Every room is a different paint-box color. Briihl said she had done smaller painting projects in the past, but not an entire house. Like Smith, she learned a lot from the “sweat equity” she contributed.

“Dry walling, nailing, patching and sewing (for window treatments). It was really an enjoyable process,” she said.

Recalling the blitz build, Briihl said she was at the site for the entire project. She called it “an emotional day” watching her home rise from a foundation and floor deck in about 12 hours.

“It was heartwarming to see everybody coming together and working together for my family,” Briihl said.

Employed by New Housing Ohio, Briihl also is a student at Tiffin University, with plans to graduate in January. She is expecting another child shortly after graduation.

Seneca Habitat for Humanity is accepting volunteers and applications for more homes. For applications and information, e-mail seneca or call (419) 447-4270.