Lyle family surprised, humbled by Habitat for Humanity

Published 2:35 pm Thursday, May 23, 2013

From left, Brooke Klabunde, Dylan Christanson, David Christianson, Lukes Klabunde and Olivia Christianson will move into a new house in Lyle this winter with the help of Habitat for Humanity. Photo provided.

From left, Brooke Klabunde, Dylan Christanson, David Christianson, Lukes Klabunde and Olivia Christianson will move into a new house in Lyle this winter with the help of Habitat for Humanity. Photo provided.

When others gave Brooke Klabunde advice about trying to get a new home, she hesitated, but finally, she listened to their words. On March 6, she was glad she did.

Klabunde, of Lyle, and her four children will be the recipients of a brand-new home before the holidays, thanks to Habitat for Humanity. Habitat for Humanity is a nonprofit, ecumenical Christian organization whose mission is to build affordable housing for people in the community who are economically challenged. Families purchase the home with a zero-interest mortgage, and they, along with volunteers, build the home.

Klabunde knew about the Habitat for Humanity program, but her pastor at Our Savior’s Lutheran Church in Lyle, Barbara Finley-Shea, told her even more and was a driving force.

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“Pastor Barb really pushed me into it,” said Klabunde. “She had been telling me to apply for a whole year before I ever did apply.”

So Klabunde applied, and then she waited even longer — more than a year, she suspects. In the meantime, she and her three sons and one daughter continued to live in the old, three-bedroom house that leaks water, has a weak foundation and is too small for her family.

“It needs a lot of upkeep we just can’t do,” Klabunde said. “Being a single mom with four kids, I just can’t afford it. The basement is not safe at all.”

Then the call came in early March.

“I knew it was a possibility,” Klabunde said about being selected. “And then they did actually call me that morning to tell me that the family selection committee presented my case to the board, and the board accepted. I was absolutely ecstatic.”

Of course, Klabunde’s children feel the same way. Klabunde currently shares a room with her 11-year-old daughter, Olivia Christianson. It’s quite apparent the family needs some space. The new house will have four bedrooms and two bathrooms.

“My kids are absolutely ecstatic,” Klabunde said. “They are so excited for the whole process.”

Klabunde, her daughter, sons Dylan Christianson, 6; David Christainson, 8; and Lukes Klabunde, 14 gathered for a groundbreaking ceremony on Sunday, May 19. Finley-Shea said a prayer for the family, volunteers and community, and with golden shovels in hands, Klabunde’s children eagerly stabbed into the ground. Klabunde’s youngest son, full of ambition, insisted on going to the hardware store for gloves. Lukes also wants to use the opportunity to learn more about building a house. He’ll get to, alongside many people from the community who have pledged to join the effort. Finley-Shea and Habitat for Humanity Director Brigitte Campbell believe the project, a first for Lyle and Campbell, will bring the community together. Campbell has been moved by the family, the children, and the community, and nearly been brought to tears.

“So far, we are very impressed with the community,” she said.

The community has already been very supportive, including Klabunde’s friend, Denise Bauer, who will help with the project and also believes the project is good for the whole community.

When construction starts, Klabunde and her family will help the other volunteers with the house. Habitat for Humanity requires 250 to 300 “sweat hours” from the recipient family. Klabunde has no problem with that. In fact, she’s going to take it further. Realizing how fortunate her family is, Klabunde plans to help Habitat in the future. So other area families who receive help from Habitat for Humanity can expect to see Klabunde on site when their homes are being constructed.

“We’ll be in partner with Habitat for a very long time to come,” Klabunde said.

In the meantime, Klabunde and her family can enjoy a few other perks, such as choosing some of the layout and color of their home. When that’s all done, there’s even one more benefit: They only have to move one block.