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BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) — Rachel Swoape was a bit overwhelmed when she was handed the key to her new home.

She grew up in Bloomington, running around with friends in the area now known as the Trail View neighborhood back when it was just overgrowth on the wrong side of the railroad tracks.

“I believe this land has a really positive vibe,” Swoape said from her new porch Saturday afternoon. “It already feels like home to me.”

Swoape, 34, is the newest recipient of a Habitat for Humanity home in Trail View, a near westside neighborhood that was built up from nothing starting in 2015 and now is nearly full.

Her one-story gray house, and a nearly identical maroon home for a mother-daughter pair, were built in 12 days by a crew of nearly 400 women volunteering during the 18th annual Habitat for Humanity of Monroe County Women Build.

“It’s a big, big, big thing,” Swoape said. “It feels so amazing to have a little spot of land that’s my own here in Trail View, a place I already love.”

Darryl Neher, Habitat for Humanity of Monroe County president and CEO, also marveled at the progress made in Trail View, and at women who have helped build it up.

“You see a slab on the ground, and in 12 days it’s a home. It’s absolutely transformative, in so many ways,” Neher said. “It’s incredibly special to celebrate with our new homeowners, and to celebrate them.”

Favorable weather for the past two weeks helped the build team stay on schedule. Rebecca Mankowski, Habitat’s Director of Family Services, said this is by far the furthest along a build has ever been by dedication day.

Mankowski said both homeowners, who completed much of their sweat equity hours at Habitat’s ReStore, will move into their homes sometime in July.

“This is the most complete, least hurried we’ve been at the very end,” Mankowski said. “There’s still some inspection work, but the builds are basically complete.”

That success, she said, is also due to nearly 3,200 hours of volunteer labor.

Nearby homeowner Emily Nehus has worked nearly every day on the builds.

She was a recipient of one of the first two homes built in the Trail View neighborhood during Women Build 2015. She said watching the neighborhood grow from dirt roads and weeds to a carefully curated collection of homes and multicultural neighbors and children running through the shade of the trees has been an organic process.

“I’m still amazed at what we’ve been building back here. It’s just so beautiful,” Nehus said Friday morning from the build site. “It’s an amazing feeling to pass on what was given to us and help with the builds each year. Plus, hammering is extremely therapeutic.”

Nehus lives in her Habitat home with her husband, Seth, and son, Tyler, and his service dog, a white labradoodle named Niella.

“I feel like we’re creating a safe space here,” Nehus said. “Folks who come in say, ‘Oh, we used to do this or that as kids, but it’s too dangerous now.’ Well now they’re able to let their kids run around and do the things they used to do. I’ve seen a lot of nice friendships developing among the kids.”

Habitat for Humanity board member Wendi Goodlett has participated in 12 Women Builds but brought her 18-year-old daughter, Baileigh, on site for the first time. The pair helped each other cut boards to length Friday morning for the staircase leading into one of the two new homes.

Baileigh Goodlett has participated for years with Bloomington High School South’s chapter of Habitat for Humanity, but was really enjoying actually participating in the building process.

“It really puts into perspective all of the behind the scenes work seeing it all put to action here,” She said. “I remember when my mom first brought me out here when it was all weeds and stuff, thinking, ‘OK, Mom. Sure, this will be a neighborhood.’ But it’s so beautiful now.”

Wendi Goodlett said it’s been fun having her daughter with her, and for both Baileigh and the future homeowners to see a group of women accomplish their goal.

“That’s what always gets me, is how appreciative the homeowners are, and how inspirational it is to see so many women working hard at this common goal,” she said.

Habitat set a fundraising goal of $170,000 to continue to support families in need. As of Saturday afternoon, they were about $7,000 short, but encouraged the gathered crowd to spread the word and help hit their target. Women Build has raised more than $1.6 million over the past 17 years.

As for Swoape, she can’t wait to move in, landscape her new front yard and relax on her quiet back patio, covered by the shade of nearby trees.

“I think this won’t sink in until I’m actually living here, surrounded by my new neighbors,” she said. “I’m bad at showing it sometimes, but I’m so grateful to everyone for this home. I’m going to think about the people who built this forever.”


Source: The (Bloomington) Herald Times,


Information from: The Herald Times,