The house at 820 Ind. was initially intended for a church custodian. He died before he could call it home, but Sunday afternoon, a new family was welcomed to the newly refurbished Habitat for Humanity house.
Members of Lawrence Habitat for Humanity, a volunteer organization that operates within a community to build houses for low-income people, worked on the house with members of several organizations so that Bobby and Lucinda Helm and their children, Jessica, Felisha and Scottie, could have a home of their own.
A dedication service was held Sunday in the First Christian Church, 10th and Kentucky.
During the service several speakers told of the history of the project.
The Rev. Ron Goodman of the First Christian Church recalled that several years ago the house started out as a project spearheaded by the church for one of their employees, long-time custodian Robert Lewis.
While Lewis worked for the church, he had lived in another house at 820 Ind., which Goodman described as substandard.
Goodman said he remembered talking with the congregation about rehabilitating Lewis' home or possibly building another house for him.
The response was great, Goodman said, and several members of the congregation embarked on the "Lewis House" project.
Goodman explained that the church entered into an agreement with Lewis that allowed First Christian to buy his house, tear it down and move another house the church owned from its site on Kentucky Street to the lot.
Work on the house that was to become Lewis' home was in progress when the elderly custodian died in April 1991.
In October 1991, the church entered into an agreement with Lawrence Habitat for Humanity and the two organizations shared the costs and the duties of finishing the work on the house under the Habitat program.
"Out of every plan that goes awry, something good happens," Goodman said.
At Sunday's service the house was blessed, the Rev. Leo Barbee Jr., sang "Bless This House" and the Helms were given a family Bible.
Lucinda Helm thanked the congregation and others who helped her family finish the house, saying the project was a dream come true.
Those who worked on the house gathered at the home after the church service for an open house Sunday afternoon.
The two-story home has four bedrooms, a living room, kitchen, dining room, two bathrooms and a full basement.
Although some of the kitchen cabinet doors haven't been installed and some painting still needs to be done, Mr. and Mrs. Helm said they both were eager to move in.
During the weekend, members of their family moved belongings from a mobile home in Oskaloosa into a moving van, which was waiting to be unpacked Sunday, Mr. Helm said.
"I want to start moving in today," he said, noting that family members had put more than 400 hours of time and effort themselves into completing the house.
Owners of habitat homes are required to work a minimum 350 hours on the house and pay off a no-interest home mortgage.