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Northwoods Habitat for Humanity: Blitz Build underway

Richell Thayer and Jerry Brebelbis hammer a board up on Thayer's Habitat for Humanity house, being built at 726 18 St. Northwest. Brian matthews | Bemidji Pioneer

BEMIDJI- The Northwoods Habitat For Humanity kicked off its Blitz Build Saturday morning, building a house for a recipient in just seven days of time.

Richell Thayer, 24, will be the recipient of the home, located at 726 18th St. Northwest. The home is being built specifically for her and her family's needs, complete with handicap accessibility, energy saving technology and a yard for her three kids to run around in.

"Over two years it seems like it's never going to happen as you are putting in all of these hours and counting them but as soon as you get down to it everything happens so fast," Thayer said. "It's overwhelming but very exciting."

Thayer's experience with Habitat for Humanity two years ago when she learned about the program, applied and was denied. Unlike many applicants who are denied and just give up with the process, Thayer stuck with it, applied again and was chosen to receive a house.

"Habitat is a hand up not a handout," Thayer said. "I know when I was younger and didn't know anything about it I just thought it was someone getting a free house, but it's not that. They are not building mansions; they are helping provide good affordable housing."

For Thayer the home is more than just a home, it is opportunity. She is the first in her immediate family to become a home owner and the home will be the first one she has ever lived in because she grew up in a trailer home. Thayer also has had to live with a disability that has had her in and out of hospitals constantly since she was diagnosed at the age of 16. She said she would rather keep the name of her condition private, but did she get cysts and is often in and out of surgery.

Habitat for Humanity requires its participants to give 250 volunteer hours, of which 100 have to be construction related, but because of her disability limiting the construction she can do, Thayer has helped where she can construction wise but also has gone above and beyond, working at the Habitat for Humanity ReStore and serving on the Resource Development Committee helping collect donations and organizing different events.

"I don't work so yes, I have more time but what other people have for their jobs I spend that much time at medical appointments," Thayer said.

After logging more than 500 volunteer hours, Thayer continues to work with Habitat for Humanity, something that not all home recipients continue to do. She said the volunteering does not even seem like work anymore because of the friends she has made in the process.

The home, which is expected to be finished on June 10, is being built with handicap accessibilities as well as allowing for easy access for nurses to come in and care for Thayer. Thayer said in terms of rooms the home will be similar to what she has lived in, but the amount of space will be nice and having a yard for her kids to play in will make a huge difference.

The Habitat for Humanity Home Blitz is done once every four years. This year's blitz is built with the help from the Headwaters Building Association. The house is built within seven days, whereas a normal built takes two to three months for completion.

Thayer said she is very thankful for the Habitat for Humanity Program and the friends she has made. She is glad she got involved and would recommend anyone interested not to hesitate.

"I would just say don't give up," Thayer said. "Don't let small things get in your way from becoming a home owner."