Highland Lakes Habitat for Humanity dedicates 24th home

Highland Lakes Habitat for Humanity house dedication

Toryn Izell (center) reacts to a quilt being presented to her, a gift from the Highland Lakes Quilt Guild, during the dedication of the Izells' Highland Lakes Habitat for Humanity home February 23. Onlookers include aunt Pat Cowan (seated), sister Kirra, parents Stephanie and Hailey Izell, and Highland Lakes Habitat for Humanity President Greg Mills. Staff photo by Jennifer Fierro

Highland Lakes Habitat for Humanity dedicated its 24th home and seventh on Avenue M in Marble Falls.

The organization presented the keys to the latest house February 23 to Stephanie and Hailey Izell and their daughters, Kirra and Toryn. The new home was built with the help of numerous volunteers and almost 40 companies that donated material and expertise.

“I want to thank everybody,” Hailey Izell said. “It’s been a real blessing.”

The Izells, who worked more than 500 hours on their home, applied for a Habitat for Humanity house six years ago. They were chosen about three years later. At the dedication, Habitat for Humanity presented a Bible to the family, people donated canned goods for their home’s pantry, and the Highland Lakes Quilt Guild gave each daughter and the couple a quilt.

Stephaine Izell said it the effort was worth it to get the home, the couple’s first. Hailey Izell agreed.

“It’s surreal,” Hailey said. “I don’t know how to put it into words. It’s a big blessing. I never thought I’d be here.”

Highland Lakes Habitat for Humanity President Greg Mills never tires of handing the keys to partner families.

“That’s the best part,” he said with a grin.

Construction on the Izell home began the weekend after Labor Day, but the small group of volunteers and Mother Nature played a role in how quickly the dwelling was finished, Mills said.

“Our volunteer base is still rather small,” he said. “We ended up trying not to overwork them and give them a break.”

He looks forward to doing the same thing for the next two families, whose homes will be located in Granite Shoals. After that, Habitat has options on where to build next.

Mills noted many families apply because they can’t afford to pay market value for a house. Habitat for Humanity doesn’t give a home to an applicant, but sells it to them interest free and at a lower cost because it relies on volunteer work and donations.

Applicants must also contribute a certain number of volunteer hours on another applicant’s home as well as their own.

While it sounds like a lot of work, the demand is strong.

“The need is great,” Mills said. “Habitat is about changing people’s lives; the home is the tool we use.”

The Izells certainly felt changed. While the house was empty of furniture, the family already had friends ready to move some in to turn it into a real home.

“My advice is be patient and don’t give up,” Hailey Izell said. “What’s supposed to happen will.”

For more information on the homes or volunteering, go to the Highland Lakes Habitat for Humanity website.

jfierro@thepicayune.com

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