Standing under a cloudless blue sky, the bright sun shining like a promise on the land, members of Habitat for Humanity of Montezuma County dedicated the groups first parcel of property, the fulfillment of four years of hard work and dedication on the part of the groups volunteers.
The excitement of the moment was evident as members of the group unfurled the large Habitat banner and posed for pictures Wednesday morning. Dodging prairie dog holes, laughingly referred to as the first tenants, the small group of gathered volunteers explored the parcel of land, smiles of satisfaction on their faces.
For many, the land dedication was a sign that the once fledgling group is close to its goal of a completed Habitat home in Montezuma County.
This has been a long time coming, said local affiliate president Gary Harding. Many people have worked for years to move Habitat forward here, and now we have acquired property. This means we have accomplished something large.
The parcel of land on Par Drive, purchased from local developer Dean Matthews, is valued at close to $30,000 and is now owned free and clear by the local housing affiliate. While this is the first property purchased by the group, other work had been done in the past few years to improve housing opportunities in the county.
Obviously we have not been able to build a new home yet, but that has not stopped us from being involved in the community, said board member Carol West. We have worked at fixing up homes for people who need help and that has been a very successful project.
The work projects have taken place through Habitats Brush With Kindness program, where crews of volunteers work to refurbish homes of qualified owners. Armed with paintbrushes and tools, local workers meet at homes and help breathe new life and vitality into faded facades.
This fall, the groups hopes to take on a larger rehabilitation project, funded by Thrivent Financial for Lutherans. The project will involve a complete face lift for a local home, including new paint.
Though we have not yet built a new home, it is important to recognize that we are involved in the community, Harding said. We have these other programs that are part of renovating existing homes, because all of that is part of our mission of changing lives in the community.
Though the affiliate intends to build on the newly dedicated property, it may be some time before construction sounds ring out on Par Drive.
We have to have all the money raised before we build the home, West said. We are still a ways out of having that first home to give to a deserving family. But we are one step closer.
In recognizing the roots of the organization and the four years of foundation building that led to the land dedication, many of the Habitat volunteers pointed to the dedication of the late Henry Cone.
One of the original members of the local affiliate, Cone brought his passion for Habitat with him from Colorado Springs and was tireless in working to ensure a group would be successful in Montezuma County. Cone passed away in 2011, unable to see his work come to fruition.
We really wouldnt be here without Henry, West said. He is here in spirit. He worked tirelessly for Habitat and we are really here, with our first property, because of him.
Cones daughter-in-law, Pasty Cone, was on hand for the dedication, and said the dedication of the property was a way of bringing Henry Cones passion, drive and vision full circle.
To his dying day this is what he worked for and this was his passion, Patsy said. Today is really part of carrying Henrys dream forward and that is so exciting.
For more information on Habitat for Humanity of Montezuma County, visit www.habitatmontezuma.org or call 565-8327.
Reach Kimberly Benedict at firstname.lastname@example.org.