Welcome home: Fuller Center for Housing in Detroit Lakes presents keys to twelfth homeowner
The Fuller Center for Housing in Detroit Lakes presented keys to Robin Nelson as she and her family took ownership of their new home from the nonprofit on Jan. 13.
DETROIT LAKES — After a year of planning, donations and sweaty volunteer work, the Fuller Center for Housing in Detroit Lakes presented keys to their twelfth homeowner.
The Jan. 13 key-exchanging event for the nonprofit brought together the new homeowner's family with many of the volunteers who helped restore the home over the past seven months.
The home's recipient, Robin Nelson, of Detroit Lakes, said she felt overwhelmed and kind of relieved at the same time.
"We're finally here, we did it, all the hard work paid off," said Nelson. "All of the blood, sweat and tears, and there were tears."
She said she and her three children, Bailey, 11, Preston, 9, and Liam, 5, were living in a rundown trailer home in the country before they were selected for the Fuller Center for Housing's program.
"(The trailer home) was just falling apart," said Nelson. "It's old, even with upkeep, it was just deteriorating ... there wasn't enough space as a two-bedroom, so there is definitely much more space here."
Her daughter, Bailey, said she was beyond excited to have her own room and to not have to share any more with the boys, who also said they were excited to have bunk beds in their new room.
Nelson said she applied for the nonprofit program about five years ago, but someone else had been chosen to receive that build. She updated her application for this home and her family was chosen by the nonprofit to be the home's recipient in May 2022.
However, this home was unique because it wasn't a new construction, one volunteer said. Due to high material costs, it was actually cheaper to move a donated home into position and renovate the structure instead of building new.
After an anonymous donor donated their lakeside home, it was moved from the shore of Detroit Lake into its current position on Dean Street, on the north side of the city, on June 15, 2022.
Once the home was in position, a large renovation was needed to make the residence livable, and those renovations needed volunteers.
"We completely resided the house, brand new shingles," said Nelson. "After the outside stuff, we moved inside, and we Sheetrocked and painted, and new wiring, and new plumbing, I've learned tons of stuff."
Nelson was part of the renovation process every step of the way and said she learned so much from the other volunteers and believes she is much more self-sufficient than she was just a year ago.
"It's nice to learn new trades," she said. "Then, if something happens here, like, I have rambunctious boys, and what if they put a knee in the wall ... I could fix that now."
She added the new location is perfect since it's only a few blocks away from the Boys and Girls Club of Detroit Lakes where she works as a preschool teacher.
Jim Velde, a Fuller Center for Housing in Detroit Lakes board member, said he was happy the group could help lift the Nelsons into a better living situation.
"It's a strong house," said Velde. "Beautiful windows. It's got a great view of the backyard. I think this is just going to be so uplifting for her family."
He added there isn't any training for a project like this and many of the homeowners learn new skills directly from the volunteer workers.
"You just start working alongside someone who knows what they are doing," said Velde. "And you just pick up and help ... and the finished product looks really quite nice."
The volunteer staff at the nonprofit will probably take a few weeks off after finishing the Nelson home, said Velde, but they will begin to find the resources for their thirteenth home shortly after that.
The Fuller Center for Housing in Detroit Lakes was formed in 2021, however, the group had been together and operating as a local Habitat for Humanity chapter since 1997.
The group is entirely volunteer-based and is always in need of contractors, renovation experts and other skilled tradesmen to assist with future projects. If you would like more information on volunteering for the Fuller Center for Housing in Detroit Lakes, visit the group's Facebook page , or call: 218-847-5397.
"It is a once-in-a-lifetime thing, and we were so honored to be chosen for this," said Nelson. "I can't thank (the volunteers) enough for their sacrifice too because they definitely sacrificed a lot to help us."