Family took possession of 15th Habitat Home in county on Saturday; Welcome home celebration held

Leona Hiebert and her daughters Whisper and Patience posed before slicing their "welcome home" cake at the new home in Riverton Saturday. (Ernie Over photo)

Leona Hiebert and her daughters Whisper and Patience posed before slicing their “welcome home” cake at the new home in Riverton Saturday. (Ernie Over photo)

By Ernie Over, managing editor,

(Riverton, Wyo.) – Saturday was a joyous day for a single mom and her three children in Riverton. It was the day they began moving into their new Habitat for Humanity home on East Jackson Street.

With volunteers and her family members on hand, the home was blessed, a celebratory “welcome home” cake was served and Leona Hiebert began moving in furniture. While there are a few minor things left do to in the home, such as hooking up the donated dish washer, the gray wood frame home at the corner of East 11th and Jackson is substantially complete. Come spring, landscaping and fencing will be added.

“This is our 15th Habitat home in Fremont County,” said Erin Shirley, local Habitat executive director. “It is Energy Star rateable. We put R-26 insulation in the walls and R-50 in the ceiling. This insulation will pay for itself in lower utility costs and it’s one of the hidden benefits of this house,” she said. For Shirley, her oversight of the construction now becomes one of a mortgage holder. “An escrow for taxes and insurance is included in the house payment to make it easier. Habitat now holds the mortgage as zero percent interest.”

The three bedroom, 1.5 bath home contains 1,067 square feet of space and cost $92,000 to construct.

Hiebert had an active role in the construction, and the choice of flooring, cabinets and color scheme inside the home. All Habitat homes require a minimum of 500 hours of “sweat equity” and Shirley said Hiebert and her family contributed much more than that during the build. Hiebert and her children had been renting in town while the house was under construction.

“Oh,  yes, I’m very excited,” she said as family and visitors toured the home. “It’s a dream having  your own home and now, for me, that dream has come true.” Hiebert’s 14-year-old son missed the big event, as he was playing hockey with his team in Sheridan. But the two girls, Patience and Whisper, were there with their friends munching on cookies and juice and racing around the house.

During the celebration, Shirley acknowledged several volunteers for their efforts. Dave and Jan Young were feted for Dave’s work that brought the utility infrastructure to the site and Jan for her donation of window blinds throughout the home. New volunteer Larry Wallace was also recognized for his work on the home, and Leona’s brother Samuel Witt received a “Super Volunteer” certificate for all his work on the home. Shirley also noted that about $7,000 in plumbing work was donated by a plumber who wished to remain anonymous.

“We could not do this without the volunteers and our local supporters,” Shirley said. Because of a decline in philanthropic giving, Shirley noted that this house was the first build that the local chapter received assistance from the National Habitat organization. “We operate on philanthropy,” she said.

Hiebert’s home is located on a lot purchased from the city on the former location of Riverton Memorial Hospital. Habitat purchased four home lots on the site at $10,250 each, and the three remaining lots will be the location for future Habitat homes. The Wounded Warrior Project is also completing a home on the other side of the large parcel to serve veterans.

Riverton  City Public Works Director Bill Urbigkit was also on hand for the welcoming ceremony. “This is a great investment in our city, and as the other lots are built the city will receive property tax and utility revenues. It’s a long term investment,” he said.