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Hopfingers take possession of 10th Habitat home

by Alan Lewis Gerstenecker
| September 3, 2013 1:37 PM

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Habitat Home

Labor Day 2013 is one holiday weekend Shannon and Justin Hopfinger and their three sons will remember for the rest of their lives.

Just about 3:30 p.m. Saturday, the Hopfingers became the proud owners of the new home at 519 W. First St., the 10th home in 20 years the Kootenai Valley Partners of Habitat for Humanity has built.

“This is a dream come true,” said Shannon Hopfinger. “This is life-changing for me and my family. I’ve always wanted to own a home.”

The Hopfingers and their three sons — Justin, Jr., Anthony and James — cut the ribbon and then toured the three-bedroom, 1½ bath home with wooden floors, a beautiful kitchen area with a nook and laundry room.

Even the boys’ rooms were painted in red and green, colors of their choosing.

The project actually began two years ago, but groundbreaking came on a rainy April morning when the Hopfingers pushed a spade into the rain-softened earth to kick off the effort. Along the way, countless volunteers — including bicyclists from the STOKR ride and vacationers to the area — helped with the home,.

“What this gives is an opportunity for people — individuals, groups and associations — to give of themselves for a good cause,” said Kootenai Valley Partners for Habitat for Humanity President Tony Petrusha. “This team effort of many allows us to feel better about ourselves as we help others. As we give, we all grow together.”

Petrusha said there is this misconception that the local chapter is just giving away a  house.

“Some ask ‘why wasn’t I selected to receive this home?’ We’re not just giving them a house. The Hopfingers were required to put sweat equity into this home, and they have. They have helped all along the way. We require at least 200 hours of participation, and there is a mortgage. We’ve built a house, the family is chose so they might build a home here.”

Shannon Hopfinger said she and her husband and sons have played a big part in the construction.

“We’ve all helped,” she said. “All total, we’ve done more than double that amount. Justin helped with the roof. We all helped. We’ve figured 501 hours were put in.”

Kootenai Valley Partners Project Construction Manager Mick Shea said he was “uplifted, impressed and humbled” by the cooperation received from volunteers, the public and local businesses that contributed to the project.

“I am grateful we completed this project safely,” Shea said. “I am in awe of the good nature of human beings.”

Shea said he conservatively calculated 88 people and 4,070 hours contributed to the project. 

“If that was one man, it would have taken him two years,” Shea mused of the hours.

The ceremony had religious overtones, and both Petrusha and the retired Rev. Trent Oelberg spoke openly about the impact living Godly lives in a family home setting.

Oelberg read Scripture from Ephesians Chapter 2, relating a strong foundation is necessary to a home, equating “a strong foundation in the apostles and prophets with Christ being the cornerstone in whom the structure is jointed and grows into a holy temple,” Oelberg read. “It takes a lot of wisdom to build a house. It takes more wisdom to build a home.”

Petrusha said the local chapter soon will begin efforts for its 2015 house, which will be built on the lot immediately to the east of the current location. 

Petrusha said the  group has found a member to take ownership of the home at 1307 Idaho, which the local chapter of Habitat for Humanity built years ago. Previous recipients of that home took employment out of the county and that home became available. Petrusha said the chapter is not ready to release the name of that recipient.

Board member Don Rigney offered a closing prayer, after which cake was served and there was a tour of the home.

“It’s beautiful,” Shannon Hopfinger said. “Absolutely wonderful.”