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Meet the new Habitat family

After three applications and then waiting for what seemed like forever, Shawn and Tresa Ohman finally got the news they had been waiting for -- they were chosen for a Habitat for Humanity home.

"We could have gotten a conventional home loan, but we couldn't have paid for it," Tresa said.

She said after being turned down the first two times for a house, of course she was disappointed, but she just kept applying in hopes of one day being rewarded with a home.

"I still can't believe it" Shawn said.

The Ohman family applied for the house in August and didn't find out until December of January they had been awarded the house.

"It felt like forever," Tresa said.

During the process, they said Habitat board members would make home visits, but made sure they pointed out that there were other candidates, and that if the Ohmans were declined, they would receive a letter in the mail.

Then they received a letter in the mail. That time it was just asking for more information. Then they received another letter in the mail. Again, Habitat needed more information.

The Ohmans said every time they got the mail and saw a letter from Habitat, they'd look at each other with fear and thought "oh no."

Finally they received word they were chosen.

"They just seemed to have such a need," Habitat's Judy Jacobs said. "They seemed so enthusiastic."

She said the Ohmans live in a three-bedroom home now, with seven children -- Michael, 17, Reagan, 14, Kaysee, 12, Chuckie, 11, Angel, 8, Elijah, 3, and Pete, 2.

"This will be one of the larger homes because we've never had to accommodate this many," Jacobs said. The house will likely be a five or six bedroom.

The kids are already enrolled in the Frazee School district, so the Ohmans are wanting a lot for their house in that school district. Also, Shawn and Tresa serve on the Frazee Rescue Squad.

Habitat is still looking for a lot for the family in that area.

There are three core requirements Habitat looks at when selecting a family. The family must fall into certain financial guidelines to qualify. Not only does the family have to be in need financially, but they also have to make enough money to be able to pay the interest-free loan back at the completion of the house.

Secondly, the family needs to be willing and enthusiastic about partnering with Habitat. Habitat President Barb Thomsen and Jacobs said they definitely saw this with the Ohman family. The Ohmans have family in town and construction workers within their circle of family and friends to help out, they said.

Lastly, the family has to have inadequate housing. The family of nine lives in a three-bedroom house, Thomsen said.

"This family definitely came to the top," she said after looking through the applications.

Although the Ohmans may not have land for their house yet, they have a kitchen.

At the recent Lake Regional Builders Association's Builders Show, Jacobs and Thomsen approached Floor to Ceiling about helping with the project. They said Darryl Bartholomay agreed to give them the floor model at the show -- which included a kitchen island and cupboards -- and some flooring for the house. Installation is also included with the donation.

"It makes it more real now that we have something," Shawn said.

He added that family is joking that even if they don't have a house or land, the Ohmans could set up their kitchen in the middle of a field somewhere since they now have cupboards and an island.

Habitat hopes to have a buildable lot by the end of April and start work on the home soon after.

Even though they haven't even so much as looked at floor plans, Tresa said her teenagers are already saying who they want to room with, who they refuse to room with and what bedroom they'd like to have. Everyone is excited about the project.

Each adult in the family is required to work on the house for a minimum of 250 hours. That's no problems for the Ohmans, they said.

"When it's your own project, wouldn't you want to?" Tresa said.

"I'll be there day and night," Shawn added.

Tresa said the family has decided the first thing they will do once they have their new home is plant a tree. Since they've always rented, they've never had the opportunity to plant a tree.

"Just a place to call home for the next 30-40 years, instead of moving around," Shawn said is what he and his wife are looking forward to.

Habitat growing

"This is a great opportunity since Habitat is growing," Thomsen said.

The organization has been growing so much it is looking for new positions: site supervisor, materials coordinator, crew leaders, crew members, office coordinator, meal preparers and volunteers of all skill levels.

Having previously built a house every other year, with the help of a Thrivent grant, Habitat has agreed to now build a new house each year.

"The neatest thing is the Thrivent grant propelled us," Thomsen said.

She added that the organization hopes to add to the one house a year rate in the future.

"There is a very serious need in this community," Jacobs said.

"We could probably build many homes a year," Thomsen agreed.

To be a part of Habitat for Humanity, visit

Chef's Gala

Habitat's major fund-raiser, the Chef's Gala, is scheduled for April 17 in the Speak Easy. Each year the event continues to grow, and this year there will be 12 chefs featured at the event, with several giving cooking live demonstrations.

"Without the Thrivent grant, we're counting more and more on donations," Jacobs said.

There will be a silent and live auction that night as well.

Tickets are available at Solutions, through Habitat members or at the door. They are $15 each, or $200 for a table.