by ALEXANDRA RETTER
Local mom Melissa Skappel has fostered children before, though rental housing has sometimes gotten in the way. As she and her family prepare to help build a home of their own through Habitat for Humanity, Skappel said the home will allow her to continue fostering children.
Melissa said her family, which includes five-year-old Vaniah, 12-year-old Deion, 14-year old Kamareana, 18-year-old Malaycia, herself and Tony, has been renting houses for some time. They had difficulty finding houses that were large enough and affordable, and they are looking forward to owning their own home in the Winona area.
“Coming home to something that’s considered ours is exciting,” Skappel noted.
Melissa and Kamareana are excited about having a yard to enjoy the outdoors and play with the family’s dog.
“Everybody’s just really, really excited to actually have something to call our own,” Melissa shared.
She said the younger family members are asking when they will be building and moving into their new home, and the older family members are focused on the various actions they can take to help with construction.
Melissa has been volunteering at the ReStore, Habitat for Humanity’s shop that provides new and lightly used building materials and furniture to the community. Volunteering is part of a Habitat requirement called “sweat equity.” Those approved for a Habitat for Humanity home contribute a minimum of 325 hours volunteering and working with the organization.
Melissa has also been completing training about home ownership through Habitat for Humanity.
“Habitat works to make sure that we’re helping to prepare her, too, because we want this to be great for her, and for her to live there forever,” Habitat for Humanity Volunteer and Marketing Coordinator Jessi Darst noted.
Melissa grew up in Winona, and many members of her extended family live in the area. She stated that she remains in Winona because she enjoys having her family nearby and appreciates the scenery surrounding the community, as well as the peaceful atmosphere of the area.
Construction of the Skappel family’s new home will start in April or May and take place over nine to 12 months. Once the home is built, work including installing carpet and painting will be completed in the interior of the structure.
Melissa said the opportunity to assist with constructing the home drew her to applying to work with Habitat for Humanity. “It’s the same as basically going into a bank and asking for a home loan,” Melissa shared. “You have to meet the same requirements, except you get to help build your home.”
Darst explained that Habitat for Humanity is on the lookout for teams of 10 to 15 people who will volunteer their time to fundraise and help build the home. Those interested can call the Habitat for Humanity office at 507- 457-0003.
“Maybe it’s just friends, maybe it’s organizations or corporations here in town,” Darst stated. “They come together, and they raise a bunch of money as a team, and then they get a day to work on the house.”
One existing team, the High Heels, Hard Hats and Homes Women Build Team, has returned to help fundraise and build the home.
Darst said Habitat for Humanity will assist with promoting each team’s fundraising events.
Those who enjoy bicycling can participate in the Habitat 500 Bike Ride to help fundraise for the new home. The ride will take place on July 14-19 near Bemidji, Minn., and participants may go on a six-day ride, three-day ride or one-day ride. Individuals may also sponsor riders. Those interested in riding or sponsoring a rider may call 507-458-9370.