By Nita Johnson
LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. — The snow that fell on Saturday morning didn't waver the spirits of Tricia Buddenberg, her newlywed husband Vince, their three children and members of the Laurel County Habitat for Humanity.
The group braved the cold and wintry weather to celebrate the completion of the 14th home built by volunteers and Habitat members.
For Buddenberg, the home is a new start for her family after spending the past six years living with her parents.
The shiny new appliances in the kitchen, hardwood floors and a porch that extends around three sides of the home were lackluster compared to the shine on the faces of the family as they viewed the residence that they will now call home.
"This is a house built by love," Buddenberg said. "It is really humbling how much people came together to help with this. It reminds me of an old-fashioned barn raising, where people forget about what they needed to do and came out to help their neighbor."
Buddenberg said she and her children lived with her parents after she underwent a “bitter divorce.” Just one week ago, she re-married and the new home symbolizes a fresh start for the new family.
“For people to give their time away from their busy schedules and volunteer to do different things is just a blessing,” she said. “People freely donated their time and their skills to help.”
Tim Dyche, president of the Laurel County Habitat for Humanity, welcomed those attending the official completion of the three-bedroom, two-bath home and was pleased with the rapid progress of the house.
“We received a grant to build a home in the tornado-affected area of East Bernstadt. We broke ground in September and it was finished in December, in spite of the winter weather we’ve had,” Dyche said.
Dyche said homes built through Habitat for Humanity are done so by “sweat equity.”
“The houses are not free,” Dyche said. “The family pays a mortgage like anyone else, but their money goes back into the Habitat and funds the next house.”
The recipient families also have to purchase the materials for the home, although the labor is supplied by volunteers.
“My dad was here every day,” she said. “He kept the deliveries coming, made sure things were here when they were supposed to be, and we couldn’t have done this without his help.”
Besides the actual construction of the home, volunteers also helped with completion of the interior. Volunteers from Buddenberg’s church, First Baptist Church of East Bernstadt, also chipped in.
“A man from our church built the porch, and a friend of mine came out and painted, cleaned, and even hung the blinds over the windows,” Buddenberg said. “Someone else came and did the electric wiring and someone volunteered to do the plumbing.”
While the family plan to move into their new home this week, Buddenberg didn’t forget to mention the hospitality of her parents over the past six years.
“It was a blessing to stay with them, but this is a wonderful fresh start in our new home. This truly is a house built from love.”