Kyle Dahl, Samanth Thiele and their 3-year-old daughter, Madison, in their new home built by Winneshiek County Habitat for Humanity and Luther College. A dedication ceremony for the family and volunteers is Sunday. (Submitted photo)
The new year is often a time of fresh beginnings and that is the case for Kyle Dahl and Samantha Thiele.
The house of their dreams built for them by Winneshiek County Habitat for Humanity and Luther College will be dedicated Sunday, Jan. 13, at 1 p.m. It is located at 1115 Division St. in Decorah.
Mike Blair, Luther College Campus pastor, and Mark Kvale, Washington Prairie Church pastor and Board member, will lead the brief dedication ceremony for the family and volunteers.
Kyle, Samantha and their 3-year-old daughter, Madison, are thrilled to have a new home. Samantha said she's anxious to get settled in and make it their own home.
"What I like best is all the space compared to our small apartment," Kyle said.
Both said they appreciated all the volunteers who helped build the house and enjoyed getting to know the workers.
Samantha works as a teller at Fidelity Bank and Trust in Postville. She completed an associate of arts degree in accounting from Northeast Iowa Community College.
Kyle does seasonal work for Bruening Rock Products and in the winter he's home with Madison for two days each week. The other days Madison attends pre-school at the Sunflower Child Care Center.
Kyle and Samantha met Habitat's requirement that low-income families must have sufficient income to pay the 25-year interest free mortgage. In addition, Samantha and Kyle contributed the necessary volunteer hours called, "sweat equity" to help make their home a reality.
Gus Johnson, executive director of Habitat, estimated that between 75 and 100 volunteers worked on the house.
"The Habitat program relies heavily on volunteers and this time we were fortunate to have Luther's involvement."
Luther is the major partner with WCHFH in the entire process of building this house. Students helped raise funds and provided extensive volunteer labor. The college wrestlers shingled the roof, students helped build interior walls, and facilities services workers assisted in casing the doors and windows.
The Luther students arranged for a $10,000 matching grant, partnered with area businesses such as T-Bock's and Culver's to raise funds, and initiated can and bottle redemption. The campaign for faculty, staff and retirees was spearheaded by Dale Nimrod, retired professor and Board member.
Nimrod pointed out that while "building houses is not a formal part of the College mission, being a good neighbor to the Decorah community certainly is."
Other Luther staff who played prominent roles in initiating this partnership are Karen Martin-Schramm, chair of the sesquicentennial celebrations, and Rachel Vagts, Luther College liaison with WCHFH when the housing plans were made.
The Dahl/Thiele house is part of the "Luther Neighbors" project which is the final one of Luther's many Sesquicentennial events.
It was initiated as a means of expressing gratitude to the Decorah community for the neighborliness the community has shown to Luther College for 150 years since Luther was founded in 1861.