Our Next Habitat Family 2018

Blake Family

Winneshiek County Habitat for Humanity recently selected Rachel Blake her children (left to right) Cameron, Brody, and Alec as its partner family for its Ridgeway home project.

“I wanted a safe home where my children and I can grow together as a family,” says Rachel Blake of Decorah when asked what first interested her in Winneshiek County Habitat for Humanity.

Soon Blake and her three children—daughter Cameron, 8 (a third grader at Carrie Lee Elementary School), son Brody (a first grader at John Cline Elementary School), and son Alec, 2—will have that home.

Winneshiek County Habitat for Humanity (WCHFH) recently selected the Blake family as its partner for its latest project, a new-home build in Ridgeway, Iowa. Work on the project is slated to begin in late September; volunteers are always welcome.

A Dorchester, Iowa, native, Blake has worked at Barthell Eastern Star Home in Decorah for the past two years. “There are so many reasons we are looking forward to our new home—my children especially can’t wait to have their own room and a yard to play in,” says Blake. “We are excited to grow some roots and have a place to call home—this is truly one of the most amazing things we have experienced.”

Hesper 2017

Dahl House in Hesper Dedicated

The Completed Home in Hesper...

WCHFH supporters (left to right) Gus Johnson, Loyal Rue, Mary Klimesh, and Ken Vandeberg competeD in a vintage baseball game, as part of the dedication on Saturday, May 13, at the FORMER Hesper Friends Church (and current home for Holly Dahl)

Thanks for supporting the team!

Our first official work day was Saturday, September 17, 2016 on the remodeling of the Hesper Friends Church to become the home of Holly Dahl and her daughters. Read more about our partner family...

 See images of the project...


Calmar 2016

Despite the chilly drizzle, several enthusiastic Luther students helped put up the walls on the Winneshiek County Habitat for Humanity house in Calmar during the October 31st Blitz Build. Experienced Habitat construction volunteers, Site Manager Dale Olson and Executive Director Gus Johnson rounded out the crew.

“It’s always exciting when we can end the Blitz Build knowing that the house already has four walls up,” stated Johnson.

Blitz Build Crew

Supervision: Ken VandeBerg, Dale Nimrod, and Gary Hildebrandt

Steve Yoder: Builder, Home owner

Habitat has a requirement that the partner family put in 150 hours of “sweat equity” for each adult member of the family. Therefore, the 2015 family Steve and Nichole Yoder were both on site. The building process will continue every Tuesday and Saturday beginning at 8:30 AM and volunteers are always welcome. Tools and supervision by Dale Olson will be provided. The goal is to complete the house by the end of 2015.

Ridgeway Habitat House Dedication

On Friday, May 23rd at 5:00 pm the 27th Habitat for Humanity House built in Winneshiek County was dedicated in Ridgeway.  There was a brief dedication ceremony officiated by Pastor Mark Kvale, who is a member of the Winneshiek Habitat Board.  The house is located at 425 Pike Street.  Family and friends came to the dedication and to view the house. 

Paul and Meagan Sobolik, the partner family, were living in Cresco in an upstairs apartment. Paul works at a local turkey farm and Meagan is a clerk at the new Spectrum Thrift store in Decorah. Their daughter, Maycee Mae, is four years old and in preschool.

“I’m anxious to get in and settled before the arrival of our second child in early July. We’re so grateful to have a home and yard as our family grows,” said Meagan. As the partner family, the Soboliks were required to provide 150 hours of volunteer help to assist in building the home. More photos of the Dedication Day...

Construction of the new Ridgeway home began in November. The inside work was done over the winter while the outside work was just completed.  Landscaping will be finished as weather permits.


The 2014 Winn County Habitat for Humanity Newsletter...



Paul and Meagan Sobolik, along with forty Habitat for Humanity volunteers, helped raise the walls on their new home in Ridgeway at the November 16/17, 2013 “blitz build.” The Soboliks and their three-year old daughter, Maycee are the 2013 Partner Family selected by the Winneshiek County Habitat for Humanity Board.  Meagan stated, “We are looking forward to having a place that is our own and that has a yard in which Maycee can play.”


Habitat Dedication

Dahl/Thiele FamilyThe 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 on 1115 Division Street built for them by Winneshiek County Habitat for Humanity and Luther College was dedicated on Sunday, January 13, 2013 at 1:00 P. M. Mike Blair, Luther College Campus Pastor, and Mark Kvale, Washington Prairie Church Pastor and Board member, lead the brief dedication ceremony for the family and volunteers.

Kyle, Samantha, and their three-year-old daughter, Madison, are thrilled to have a new home. Samantha commented that she’s anxious to get settled in and make it their own home. Kyle stated, “What I like best is all the space compared to our small apartment.” Both said they appreciated all the volunteers who helped build the house and they enjoyed getting to know the workers.

Currently Samantha works as a teller at Fidelity Bank and Trust. She completed an A.A. degree in accounting from NICC. 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 College 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.

See photos of the dedication...

  See photos of the building process...

Advertisement Opportunity for Local Businesses

Balnk Trailer

Winneshiek County Habitat houses are built mainly with volunteer labor and, of course, these volunteers need tools. Many bring their own, but others rely on the tools provided by the Habitat program. These tools and some building materials are brought to the site in a trailer donated originally by Dave and Brenda Carlson.

In order to give more visibility to both the Winneshiek Habitat program and the many supportive local businesses, there is currently a campaign to add signs to the trailer. Members of the fundraising committee are visiting with local businesses and giving them the opportunity to become “Sustaining Builders.”  In exchange for their contribution, Habitat will place a sign on the trailer for three years. The company can select its logo or slogan or whatever represents its business. 

For more information about this campaign, contact Gus Johnson at 563-382-1802.