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Tidying up the house for a home
Photo submitted The Neuenschwander family stands in front of the Habitat for Humanity home in Monticello they soon will own. Pictured, from left to right, are Leah, Katie, Rachael, Kelly and Todd Neuenschwander. Not pictured is daughter, Becky.

Also Sunday

The episode of ABC-TV's hit show "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" featuring the Stott family of rural Lena will be televised at 7 p.m. Sunday. The crew, along with hundreds of volunteers, built the Stotts a new home in September.

There will be a live screening of the show at Classic Cinemas' Lindo Theatre in Freeport.

MONTICELLO - Habitat for Humanity of Green County and about 100 volunteers have accomplished what they set out to do only a few months ago - build a home with a partner family, the Neuenschwanders of Monticello.

Habitat for Humanity and the Neuenschwanders will host an open house at 1 p.m. Sunday on Summit Street. The public is invited to join volunteers and sponsors for a walk through the house after a dedication ceremony.

Leah Neuenschwander was busy Friday, cleaning the home in preparation for the event.

"I'm enjoying the process," she said.

Leah, her husband Todd, and their four daughters, Rachel, Becky, Kelly and Katie, are excited to spend the upcoming Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays in their new home, a dream only four months ago. Ground breaking was in July, and construction went fast.

"I am so amazed at the dedication and generosity of so many people we didn't know," Leah said. "This has been a dream of mine for a long time, to have a nice, stable home for my girls. Thanks to so many, it's no longer a dream."

Leah never worried about finishing the home on time.

"Only because Ron (Goodman) and Tiger (Barb Myers) kept us on schedule," she said. "They outdid themselves, and the community and businesses donated so much."

Goodman, site supervisor for the project, credited the many subcontractors and local tradesmen for finishing the house on time.

"We are truly grateful for so many who gave above and beyond what is in their normal course of doing business to help keep this project on time and on budget," he said. "Even in these tough economic times, they were generous in their time, skills and tools."

With so much being donated, Myers, construction committee chairman, said a few amenities for the family were able to be included - like a linen closet in the girls' bathroom and paint in their choice of colors for the bedrooms.

"They managed to design the house to fit us," Leah said.

The girls were most excited about being able "to choose the colors of their rooms, (cool lavender and blue in the bedrooms and a deep warm peach in a bathroom), and making it their space," she added.

Once the paint was on the walls, Leah did have a moment of concern.

"I was a little worried, and thought, 'Oh, did I do the right thing?'" she laughed.

But things came together nicely, she added.

The Neuenschwanders put the required 500 hours of "sweat equity" into the house. They will repay the cost of the home over 30 years with a no-profit, no-interest mortgage, illustrating Habitat's objective of giving a hand up, rather than a hand out.

"It's more than just getting a house, a building," Leah said. "It's about building friendships through all this."

"I met a lot of new people, talked with new people and built new friendships that I wouldn't have before," she said.

Leah said she definitely wants to stay involved in Habitat for Humanity when their home is finished.

"All the people in Habitat for Humanity have been great. You can't ask for better people in the organization," she said. "They work with you and make it fun."