Habitat for Humanity has ceremony for first home in Belpre

Habitat for Humanity of the Mid-Ohio Valley Board President Treasa Mackey joins with Braden, Aidyn, Sophia and Candace Boyce as well as Diane Mayle for the official groundbreaking on the Boyce’s house at 809 Grant Ave. in Belpre. The home being built through Habitat is on land donated by Mayle, whose late husband, Darwin, wanted the property to go to Habitat to give a family a chance to build a home. (Photo by Brett Dunlap)

BELPRE — Habitat For Humanity of the Mid-Ohio Valley held a groundbreaking ceremony Tuesday evening for its first house in Belpre.

Habitat officials, representatives of the City of Belpre, local business officials, volunteers and others gathered for the official groundbreaking at 809 Grant Ave. in Belpre, the first Washington County house the group has started since the Wood and Washington County Habitat organizations merged in 2016 to become one organization.

The house, which is expected to be completed next spring, will be the home of Braden, Candace, Aidyn and Sophia Boyce.

This will be Habitat’s 101st home in the area. The groundbreaking ceremony was for the first house Habitat is building within the city limits of Belpre. There have been Habitat houses built with Belpre addresses on Braun Road, but are outside the city.

“This is our very first house in Belpre and we are very excited about it,” Habitat for Humanity of the Mid-Ohio Valley Executive Director Alvin Phillips said. “We are starting our next hundred houses with the first one in Belpre.

Habitat for Humanity of the Mid-Ohio Valley Executive Director Alvin Phillips speaks Tuesday evening at the official groundbreaking ceremony for Habitat For Humanity’s 101st locally built house, its first in Belpre. The home, located at 809 Grant Ave., will be the home of Braden, Candace, Aidyn and Sophia Boyce. (Photo by Brett Dunlap)

“We have exciting things going on.”

Habitiat’s 98th, 99th and 100th houses, all in Wood County, are nearing completion and are expected to be finished soon. Habitat uses volunteer labor, donations and donated materials and land to keep homes affordable for those who wouldn’t otherwise be able to own their own homes through conventional means.

Habitat is not a free giveaway. Habitat homebuyers are required to attend homebuyer education classes and complete “sweat equity” hours in working on a number of local Habitat projects as well as their own. The homeowners pay a zero-percent interest mortgage to buy the house from Habitat.

Habitat For Humanity of the Mid-Ohio Valley will be completing five homes and starting two to three more in the next 12 months..

Phillips said property in Washington County has been hard to come by. He spoke to the Belpre Rotary Club in May 2016 shortly after the merger. Phillips was approached by Belpre resident Darwin Mayle, who told him he had a lot in Belpre he wanted to donate to Habitat For Humanity. Due to certain things going on, Mayle would have to wait until 2017 before he would be able to donate the property.

People were able to sign, offer prayers and well wishes on boards that will be incorporated into Habitat for Humanity of the Mid-Ohio Valley’s 101st home, its first being built in Belpre, during the official groundbreaking ceremony held Tuesday evening. (Photo by Brett Dunlap)

However, Mayle passed away in October 2016. Phillips was contacted by Mayle’s widow, Diane, who told him they had discussed donating the property to Habitat and wanted to move forward with doing it.

Darwin Mayle wanted the property to be donated to Habitat to become the site of a future home. Many groups and individuals throughout the community are coming together to make this house a reality in his memory.

Diane spoke to those gathered at Tuesday’s groundbreaking about her husband and his sense of community.

“I am truly thankful for all of the love and support from this community,” she said.

Darwin was born and raised in Belpre and served on so many community groups and committees.

“His act of giving has encouraged us all,” Diane said. “I am proud to celebrate his legacy of giving and the footprint he left for Belpre.

“We can continue to celebrate his kindness to this community.”

Karen Waller, director of the Belpre Area Chamber of Commerce, spoke about how economic development of Belpre is largely dependent on home ownership.

“This house is a symbol of what Belpre is doing right now and Darwin would have been excited and proud to have been that first facilitator of a house,” she said. “More and more houses will be built in our town.”

Pastor Jim Condrey of Rockland United Methodist Church spoke about what “home” means to so many.

“For me, home is where the heart is,” he said. “Home is family. Home is where you hang your hat. Home is where you look forward to coming after a long day of work and be with family. Home is special.”

He spoke of the legacy of the Mayles and how their donation will make the community stronger.

“This is a much better place because of Darwin,” Condrey said. “It is that legacy of faith, hope and trust that Diane continues.

“This is the first house by Habitat in Belpre and it won’t be the last.”

Diane Mayle spoke of her husband’s commitment to this area and his love for the people here.

“Love grows love and that is what I want to continue to do as Darwin is celebrated in the life he served,” she said. “I am so glad for this wonderful family.

“They are the picture of someone who really deserves this.”

Candace Boyce read a letter to Diane to express what the Mayles’ donation means to her family.

“You will never know how much this means to us,” she said. “I have lived in Belpre my whole life and cannot imagine going anywhere else. It is home.”

Boyce acknowledged how hard the last year has been on Diane and how the property had belonged to her family for years.

“Just know that the house will be filled with tons of love and laughter,” Boyce said. “There will be so many memories made there.

“Thank you, from the bottom of our hearts, for giving us the opportunity to have a permanent place to call home. Our lives have been changed for the better for you allowing use of this land. We are so excited to be on this journey and can’t wait to get to know you and get to know who Darwin was.”

Volunteers expect to get the floor done by the end of October and the exterior wall panels up by mid-November, Phillips said.

Habitat is a Christian ministry that builds or renovates homes with lower-income families who are currently living in substandard housing. They are continually looking for volunteers to help with building, including church groups, businesses and others.