Running water whenever they want.

A warm home that doesn’t cost $1,000 a month to heat.

Those are the things the Nash family will be most thankful for when they move into their new, 1,300-square-foot Habitat for Humanity home on Brocks Lane next month.

In their current double-wide modular, “we run out of water. The ceiling has a spot where it’s falling in. There’s like a mushroom growing in the ceiling and a lot of electrical issues. It’s just not a good, sturdy safe place,” Rachelle Nash said.

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For the Nash family — Rachelle, her husband, Nathaniel “Chuck,” and their three children, Desirea, 13, Jordan, 12, and Nate, 8 — the third time was the charm when applying to be a Habitat family.

The family had owned a home before, but due to health issues and job loss, they were unable to make mortgage payments. They went into bankruptcy. The first two times they applied to Habitat, their bankruptcy was too recent to be accepted for a home loan.

The family was excited when they found out in April they had been picked.

“It took a lot of relief and stress off my husband and myself. The kids have been ecstatic ever since finding out. It’s been kind of hard to wait,” Rachelle Nash said.

They broke ground in October — a bit later than other homes in the past. Until September, the Habitat crew was still finishing the Project Helping Hands building at the Brown County Fairgrounds — a headquarters it now shares with Mother’s Cupboard, Habitat for Humanity board President Denny Kubal said.

“We really couldn’t have two volunteer crews at different locations simultaneously. Scheduling would be a nightmare,” he said.

All members of the family have been pitching in on the job site. The kids painted a shed on the 3-acre lot and helped dig a fire pit.

“It’s pretty fun, especially the painting,” eighth-grader Desirea said.

The Nash family will have the fourth home in the Pleasant Hills subdivision on Brocks Lane. They are the 19th family to partner with Brown County Habitat for Humanity.

Generous community

The family has already put in their required 250 volunteer hours at the construction site, Kubal said.Their church, Church of the Lakes in Nineveh, has designated one day a week for volunteers from the church community to donate hours on their behalf. Church members also provide meals to the family.“It’s been pretty cool just to see the community come together and help along as well,” Rachelle Nash said.

The family also received some unexpected help. On Oct. 24, three of Desirea’s junior high school teachers showed up at the construction site.

Language arts teacher Sarah Cochran was scrolling on Facebook the night before when she saw a post saying that Habitat needed volunteers that Saturday to work on the Nash family home.

“It caught my attention because I know that the Habitat for Humanity crews typically don’t work on the weekend, and so I started reading it closer. I was like, ‘Hey, that’s my student,’” Cochran said.

With a text message, she also had engineering and technology education teacher Dan Lewellen and social studies teacher Emily Pettijohn on board. All three have Desirea in class.

Lewellen has her for study hall. She also was in his engineering classes in sixth and seventh grade.

“She’s real energetic, easy to talk to. She comes up to me every morning and says, ‘Good morning Mr. Lewellen,’ whenever she walks into the door,” he said.

“She’s very polite. She’s very sweet. She’s always willing to help,” Cochran added.

Pettijohn met Desirea when she was in seventh-grade Junior National Honor Society, which Pettijohn sponsors.

“She’s an exceptional student and does really well,” she said.

The teachers had plans to work the school’s pancake breakfast fundraiser that morning and decided to head out to the work site that afternoon.

Kubal has never seen teachers show up to a construction site to help before.

Desirea had no idea they were coming.

“I was a little surprised, but I was really happy that they helped. It made the process go a little faster,” she said.

Lewellen has construction experience, but Cochran and Pettijohn do not.

“They did a great job. They showed me up,” Pettijohn said of Cochran and Lewellen.

The teachers spent about 3½ hours there, putting up siding and doing other odd jobs, like moving a stump down a hill to the fire pit.

Lewellen, the engineering teacher, had a good time first watching Cochran and Pettijohn attempt to move it, Cochran said.

“It was quite a scene. There were five of us: the two of us, Desi, her mom and then her brother,” Pettijohn said.

Rachelle Nash was happy to have their help.

“Obviously they’re working 40-plus hours during the week, and then to come spend their Saturday and help to do construction, it was pretty awesome of them to do that,” she said.

The three would like to plan another day to come out and bring more teachers with them.

“It would be nice if we could all take a day off school and go do that: ‘School’s closed. We’re going to go build a house,’” Cochran said.

When asked what she wants to say to her teachers for helping build her new home, Desirea had a quick response: “I just want to give them a big hug and say thanks.”

The feeling is mutual.

“We’re thankful for Desirea,” Cochran said.

How it works

Habitat for Humanity’s Family Selection and Nurture Committee is tasked with selecting a partner family each year for a Habitat home.

Many factors are considered, including minimum income requirements, Habitat board President Denny Kubal said.

“A lot of people think that Habitat gives them a house. They (the family) don’t pay any interest. They get the house for whatever materials it cost us to put it up,” he said. “They get a big discount off of what the actual market value of the home is. But they do have to make payments, usually for 15 or 20 years to pay off the material, which can be about 70 percent of the total home value.”

Habitat also looks at the family’s credit history and their situation.

“They have to be a family in need. They have to be living in substandard housing,” Kubal said.

The family selection committee is headed by Emily Stone. She checks in with the partner families weekly to see how they’re doing with their required construction site volunteer hours.

As part of the agreement, partner families attend Habitat fundraisers, keep in contact with Stone, do 250 volunteer hours at the construction site and attend a financial management class taught by Stone and her committee.

Once a week, the family meets at the library to go over basic budgeting that will help them transition from being a renter to a homeowner.

“These are people who have never owned a house before,” Kubal said.

The Nash family lives less than four minutes from where their new home is being built on Brocks Lane, which is one of the reasons they were picked.

“We were looking to build on that lot because it was a donated lot. The alternative would have been coming to Nashville and buying a lot. But this lot was donated and these people live very close, less than a mile from where we’re building a house,” Kubal said. 

“It worked out perfect for us.”

How to help

Habitat for Humanity relies on a generous community to get the job done, board President Denny Kubal said.

“We are one of the smallest chapters in the country. Usually, when you have to raise $50,000, $60,000, $70,000 a year to put a house up, and you’re in a bigger community with a lot of (manufacturing) plants and where you can go to Walmart or big box stores, the Ford plant and get some financial support. We don’t have any of that,” he said.

Due to low funds, the Habitat for Humanity board members were not sure if they would have enough money to build a home this year — and they’re still not out of the woods yet, Kubal said.

“We are not, at this time, sure we have the financing available to finish the home,” Kubal said.

“It looks at this time, we will barely make it, but that is not a certainty. We have many bills that have not come in, and some could be higher than anticipated.

“Regardless, if we do make it, it will not be by much.”

To support the group’s work, send donations to Brown County Habitat for Humanity, P.O. Box 260, Nashville, IN 47448, or call 812-988-4926 to volunteer.

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Suzannah Couch grew up in Brown County, reading the Brown County Democrat. A 2013 Franklin College graduate, she covers cops/courts, education and arts/entertainment.