Partner Families...

Spillville Family for 2014 House

As the newest partner family for Winneshiek County Habitat for Humanity, Jeff Kimber and Cathy Straube look forward to a new home in Spillville. Currently living in a Decorah apartment with their two year old daughter, Kiah, they are anxious to be in a larger space with a yard.

“ We’ve been looking at houses for a couple years, but they have all been too expensive for us. Relatives living in another Habitat home told us about the possibility of qualifying for Habitat,” stated Cathy.

Construction began at the end of September with the usual “blitz build” and the plan is to be done by the end of 2014.

“Because this home will be built on a lot in Spillville donated by John and Mary Klimesh, it will help with the rising costs of construction. Members of the Habitat Board are very grateful to John and Mary and also to Thrivent Financial for Lutherans which is giving a donation,” said Gus Johnson, Executive Director.

The goal for Habitat is to work in partnership with people in need to build or renovate decent, affordable housing for them. The houses are sold at no profit and with no interest charged to low-income working families. Jeff and Cathy are both employed: Jeff as a rock crusher for Bruening Rock Products and Cathy at Barthell OES Home as a dietary aide.

Volunteers provide much of the labor and partner families themselves invest hundreds of hours of labor or "sweat equity" into building their homes and the homes of others. Relatives may help to meet the sweat equity requirement and Cathy’s family lives in Spillville.

“It will be nice to raise Kiah in the same town I grew up in and she will be closer to family,” commented Cathy.

Jeff said,“We’re happy that we will finally have a home to grow in as a family.”

For further information on eligibility requirements or simply for general information about Habitat, contact Gus Johnson at 563-382-1802. Persons wishing to donate may send it to WCHFH, Box 457, Decorah.


Paul and Meagan Sobolik, with their four-year old daughter, were living in a small apartment over the bakery in Cresco. So when Meagan saw a poster in the Ridgeway gas station about a Habitat home, she pursued the opportunity. She completed the application and the family was interviewed. The Soboliks were selected as the new partner family for the 2013 home in Ridgeway. After Paul and Meagan were married in August, Meagan wrote to the Board. “Thank you for choosing us for the Habitat house. It was the best wedding present ever.”

Paul works as a truck driver for Bruening Rock Products in Cresco and Megan has begun part-time work at Engen Express in Ridgeway. Their daughter, Maycee Mae, attends preschool at Kessel Kids in Cresco. The couple has family in both Cresco and Protivin so Ridgeway is a good location for them in which to live. Further, their family members can help them meet the requirement to provide 150 hours of “sweat equity” per adult member of the family. This can be provided in cooperation with friends and family volunteers.  For example, Meagan said that her high school-aged brother will use his volunteer time as part of his required 50 hours of community service.



2012 Partner Family


Kyle Dahl, Madison Dahl, Samantha Thiele

The Wave

Gus Johnson, Executive Director of WCHFH, Samantha Thiele and Kyle Dahl waving at Madison Dahl

Two Decorah brothers and their families will live next door to each other when Winneshiek County Habitat for Humanity (WCHFH) finishes building its 26th house. The house in progress on Division Street will belong to Kyle Dahl and Samantha Thiele along with their daughter Madison. Kyle’s brother Chris, his sister-in-law Vada, along with their two children live in the Habitat house built in 2012.  

Kyle and Samantha are very excited about the opportunity to leave their apartment and live in a home of their own. “It was Chris and Vada who suggested we apply,” stated Kyle. There were other families who qualified, but the Family Selection Committee agreed that this family was the best choice.  Kyle and Samantha were familiar with Habitat and its requirements since last year they had helped the Dahls provide the volunteer labor of 150 hours per each adult member of the partner family’s home. Habitat refers to this volunteer labor as “sweat equity.”

Both families said they are good friends so will have no trouble living next door to each other, but Chris thought the two small cousins, Azalya and Samantha, may have occasional spats. He stated, “They are like sisters and usually they get along very well, but sometimes they fight.”

Habitat’s mission is to provide housing for low-income families, but these families must have sufficient income to pay the 25-year interest free mortgage. 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 describes himself as, “ Mr. Mom.” Their three-year old daughter, Madison, has just begun attending pre-school at the Sunflower Child Care Center.

2011 Partner Family

Dahl Family 2011

Chris and Vada Dahl  and their two children will soon celebrate a year in their new home at 1117 Division St in Decorah. Two years ago they applied to Winneshiek County Habitat for Humanity to qualify for the house to be built in 2011 and to their surprise, they were selected. One of the requirements for a partner family is to have a regular income and Chris works in Dining Services at Luther College. Vada is pursuing a degree in school counseling and is currently doing an internship at the Allamakee Community School District.

The family had been crowded into a small apartment and they had been looking for a house that they could afford. The two children, Azalya, age 3 and Zayden, age 1, had to share a small bedroom. “When one woke up, the other usually did, too,” stated Vada about their previous living situation. Since moving in, the couple also became married.

As a partner family, the Dahls willingly put in the 60% of the required 175 hours of physical labor on the house which is called "sweat equity." They had help from friends and family including his brother, Kyle Dahl, and Samantha Thiele, who are 2012’s Partner Family. Chris laughingly said that he now knows much more about construction.

The house is approximately 1,250 square feet with three bedrooms and one bathroom. The couple was able to select details like siding, shingles and paint color. They just moved into the house in time for the dedication which was held Sunday, December 11, 2011. “It feels unbelievable that we’re no longer in that tiny apartment. We absolutely love being in this house,” Chris stated when asked about the family’s first months in the house.