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What is a Habitat Home Dedication?

Posted on February 1, 2024

What is a Habitat Home Dedication?

The long road to homeownership is a journey filled with hard work, hope, and determination. Our homebuyer families spend 18+ months overcoming obstacles, working diligently on credit improvements, and addressing various challenges. In addition to the safety, joy, and comfort families feel once they reach the end of their journey, their new home is also a symbol of their perseverance and is a testament to the commitment they’ve invested into building a better future for themselves and their children.

We are blessed to partner with such hardworking families that are so easy to celebrate! You may have heard of a Habitat home dedication, but might not understand what it entails and why it matters. A Habitat home dedication is a celebration held at the conclusion of the build – before the family moves into their new home. It represents all the family has accomplished in order to begin a new chapter in their lives.

What does a Habitat family have to accomplish to get to this point?

The journey of becoming a Habitat homeowner takes an immense amount of hard work. Fox Cities Habitat developed a needs-based scoring system that allows us to prioritize families facing the greatest need for affordable, safe housing. Despite the misconception that we give away free homes, our homebuyer program requires families to have the ability to repay an affordable mortgage. With a 0% interest housing loan, future homeowners contribute their own “sweat equity” in the form of financial and home management education and hands-on building as well as paying monthly mortgage payments. 

Applicants must be willing to work in partnership with Fox Cities Habitat’s team and maintain a positive and active involvement in their 200-400 hours of Sweat Equity while working towards their goal of homeownership. Sweat Equity hours can come in many different forms – swinging a hammer (often working on their own future home), volunteering at the ReStore, cooking a meal for volunteers, attending homeowner workshops, and more! This sets homeowners up for success, gives them a chance to pay it forward, and allows them to earn an interest-free home loan. This approach has a proven track record with a foreclosure rate of less than 1% annually – offering families a hand up, not a hand out.

What does a home dedication entail?

Home dedications begin with an introduction of the family. While many of our dedicated staff and volunteers have had the pleasure of spending time with our homebuyers, this provides an opportunity for those who haven’t to learn about their unique journey that brought them to partner with Habitat. The family then takes the floor and expresses their gratitude and personal thanks to those who have been instrumental in supporting them along the way. This gives families the opportunity to share what their Habitat journey, and being able to call a place home, truly means to them.

Following that, we extend our appreciation to the sponsors and donors whose financial support made their home a reality as well as the volunteers who poured their “labor of love” into the home. Oftentimes Municipality representatives will come and speak on behalf of the city while welcoming the family to the neighborhood.

Then, we transition into the presentation of the gifts. We are blessed with many local communities, organizations, and people, who donate such wonderful gifts to our families before they move into their home. This often includes a blanket made by a local church, a gift card from Festival Foods, and other personal gifts.

To conclude the dedication, those who attend have the opportunity to tour the home. Oftentimes children are running around in excitement, eagerly showing where their rooms will be and how they plan to decorate (see a heartwarming example from the Keepers here). It is such a special moment for everyone to come together and witness the impact that hard work, support, and love has on the families we serve.

The last, and greatest gift of all… the key to their brand new home – the place they can finally call their own. The family then cuts the ribbon off their front door, symbolizing the opening of a new chapter in their lives.

Volunteer and join us for a home dedication!

Are you interested in attending a home dedication? All volunteers who work on our build sites receive an invitation to the dedication of the home they worked on. Home dedications are special for our volunteers as it gives them the chance to see the excitement on the families’ faces and the realization that their labor of love is helping dreams come true. You don’t have to help build the home to be invited, the invitation is also extended to the meal providers and site hosts who help make the magic happen. For more information on volunteering and being included in a future home dedication, please visit our volunteer page.

“For me, home is where you place your heart, and I’m happy to place my heart in a Habitat home!”

– Dawn Buelow, 2023 Homebuyer