That’s how Norma Sweet felt Sunday night at the dedication of her Habitat for Humanity home at the corner of Nevada Avenue and West Sixth Street in Libby.
“There’s been a lot of people who’ve come from so far away we didn’t even know to help,” she said. “In today’s world that’s just nuts. It proves to me there really are those people out there.”
The dedication was almost the last step in the building of the home, which began in early May with the digging of the foundation. Appliances will arrive this week, and if all goes according to plan Sweet will close on the house Friday afternoon and move in that night with her children Landon, 13, MaKenna, 10, and Livia, 9.
Family is what ties together all Habitat for Humanity home-building projects, said Dyana Todd. A volunteer builder known as a Care-A-Vanner, who travels from project to project in an RV, she estimates she’s worked on over 35 homes in Las Cruces, New Mexico and Northwest Montana.
“It’s absolutely all about families and the opportunities it allows them,” she said. “I’m proud of Norma. She and her family worked really hard.”
Founded in 1976, Habitat for Humanity has grown to be the largest nonprofit home builder in the world and the sixth largest home builder in the United States, profit or nonprofit, said Don Rigney, board president of Kootenai Valley Partners, the local Habitat for Humanity affiliate.
“We’re the only all-volunteer affiliate in Montana,” Rigney said. “Everyone you see here got paid with chocolate chip cookies.”
Volunteers were among the roughly three dozen people who showed up for Sunday’s dedication. One vital volunteer — Norma Sweet’s father Walt, who worked on the house most every day — was unable to attend in person, so someone called him using an iPhone’s Facetime video calling feature. Sweet said he was crying for much of it.
Even without furniture moved in or appliances installed, the house already seemed like a home. Neighbors mingled in the yard, kids played hide-and-seek inside and Landon Sweet sat on his new front porch eating cake.
That’s what Kootenai Valley Partners board member Susie Rice said she felt Sunday.
“When you work so hard and then see the family be so appreciative,” she said, her thoughts and voice trailing.
Rice wore a yellow shirt that stated “God’s work. Our hands.” As Rigney explained to the crowd earlier, Habitat for Humanity is a Christian ministry that believes in the “theology of the hammer” and in the vision that if people of different beliefs can agree on one thing it’s that people need a decent place to live.
Norma Sweet and her children are steps closer to achieving that vision, though she was quick to praise her landlords of four years.
Then she considered the overwhelm of the upcoming week.
“It’s packing up the other house and getting ready to move,” she said. “That’s a whole set of other thoughts.”