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Family ties: Relatives, friends gather in Kabekona to help family construct new house

What's better than a helping hand? About 100 helping hands.

Approximately 50 family members and friends gathered at the home of Dwight and Leslie Raddatz in Kabekona this week to help the couple construct a new home.

"It's been really amazing to see all these people come," Dwight said. "It's pretty awesome."

Dwight is one of eight siblings, and all but one made the trip to help him out. Some came from as far as California and Washington. Another came from Iowa.

One of his sisters, Vi Strobridge, said the family was discussing ways in which everyone could get together to help construct the new home.

"I called, asking around about what week," she said. "We decided to all be here."

The new house is located on the property where the Raddatzes now live on Hubbard County Road 44. The land formerly was owned by Dwight's parents, Lloyd and Frances Raddatz, who died in 1983 and 2005 respectively.

"It's fun to come back here," Strobridge said. "We used to play and run around the fields here."

Relatives and friends camped out at the Raddatzes' home or nearby. Breakfast has been served in shifts inside the original house, and lunch and dinner was offered outside en masse.

"My family is really pretty close," Strobridge said. "We like getting together."

Crews have been working daily all week, some people starting as early as 5 a.m.

As of Thursday, the home already had been erected. Construction started last Friday as the basement was put in.

On Saturday, crews got three of the four walls put together and up, and the fourth was put up on Sunday. Later that day, workers added the interior walls.

On Monday, the rafters went up and work has continued since. On Thursday, the men were working to finish laying the roof.

The bulk of the wood for the home was tamarack wood Dwight gathered from the family's nearby swamp.

"It's good stuff," he said. "Weather resistant."

The men have primarily done the heavy lifting, and the women stained or did laundry, helping out where they could, Strobridge said. Once the house gets a little further along, the women also will help with insulation.

Once complete, the basement will be open and the main floor will have two bedrooms, Strobridge said.

Dwight said the family plans to move in before winter. He and Leslie have three grown children: Grant, 22; Garrett; 20; and Victoria "Tori," 18.

Members of Kabekona Community Church and Kabekona Free Methodist Church have brought food for the group.

Dwight planned to construct the new house last year, but postponed plans due to health issues. Strobridge said he had some concerns about doing it this year also, but family members assured him they would help.

Dwight had heart surgery on Feb. 21 this year. Afterward, he felt much better and stronger, so the plans went forward, the family said.

About 50 people showed up to help build the house, one as young as 6 months old. One relative who came is a lawyer in California.

"He gave up a week of fishing in Canada to come here and help," Dwight said. "I have an awesome family."