Kulish family excited to start on new home
by Guy Thompson
There is pretty solid agreement among the nine children of the Kulish family on what they are most excited about in their home to be built later this month.
In order, they are most excited about: the kitchen, living room, and, finally, their own rooms.
It says a lot that, to them, the most important areas are the ones where the whole family will be able to gather once their Habitat for Humanity home is built on York Hills Drive. “The kitchen is the center of the family,” remarked dad Ben.
Mom Nadia noted how the family likes to share stories around the dinner table, and is looking forward to enough space so that everyone can finally sit around the same table. Currently, a handful of the family end up at a different table, in a different room, during meals.
In the spring of 2016, the Kulish family was selected to be a partner family with Habitat for Humanity of Elkhart County, who began looking for a building site. The size of the family – nine children, parents and grandmother – presented a challenge. Amy Zakiewicz, director of development for Habitat, said that a combination of three anonymous donations allowed the affiliate to get the lot in August. “We could not have done this without them,” she said.
“We are very excited,” Ben stated. “It’s unbelievable.”
“I didn’t think it would happen this year,” Nadia added. “But God made it happen. It feels like a miracle for me.”
Standing on the currently empty lot, the family talks excitably about the house that is, for the moment, only in their minds. But they can picture themselves all around the same table. Playing music together in the same living room. Having space for studying.
Community Volunteer Coordinator Moly Prime is in charge of gathering the volunteers and coordinating the construction. “Our standard home is three bedrooms,” she said. “We built a six-bedroom one a few years ago.” For the Kulish family, there will be seven bedrooms, three on the ground floor and four in the finished basement.
The additional size of the home means a longer building schedule and a greater need for volunteers. “This is double the size of an average home for Habitat,” Zakiewicz said. The plan to finish the basement for additional living space is to keep from adding a second floor, which would add cost and difficulty to the build.
The Kulish house is special, as well, because it is a Faith Build. “We’ve written to churches in the area to be involved in this house,” Zakiewicz stated. “A Faith Build is an opportunity to act on faith.”
Churches are already stepping up to help. The Kulish family attends the Conservative Baptist Church in Nappanee, which has committed to helping with construction. For Nadia, it means friends from church can gather at her house in the near future. “Everyone (at church) is excited,” she added.
Waypoint Church has also donated $10,000 to Habitat, and with a matching amount challenge of up to $15,000, could end up contributing a total of $40,000, Zakiewicz noted.
Companies, such as Lippert Components, have donated materials to the Habitat affiliate to be used on houses, including this one. Lippert has donated doors, while Masterbrand has donated oak kitchen cabinets.
Along with funds, people are needed and Prime said that they have 10-15 volunteers on a typical day. But that’s four times a week over two, perhaps even three, months. “We’re talking lots of volunteers,” Prime said. Groups and individuals can sign up to work.
The foundation work was scheduled for the week of August 21, with construction starting on September 13. Work is done on the house Wednesday through Saturday each week. Since it is a Faith Build, Prime pointed out, she is looking at church groups working on Saturdays.
No experience is necessary to volunteer, and tools will be provided at the site. A safety training session starts the day.
“Every day, it’s a different group of people,” Prime said. “They come in groups or individually. And it’s fun to see the team spirit when they’re doing something like this that isn’t the usual thing for them. And the construction manager and I work to make it fun for them, too.”
Some groups have found it to be a good team building experience as well. “They may work alongside someone on the house that is from a different department at work,” Prime said. “At the end of the day, they all say this was so cool. They’ve had fun and accomplished something. They’ve done something for someone else.”
“That’s energizing,” Zakiewicz added. “The partner family is there and they are so appreciative of the volunteers.”
Since the purchase was finalized, the family has been out there a few times. And even when not there physically, their thoughts are there. “All of my mind is here,” Nadia said. She is looking forward to being on site as much as possible as well as being part of the neighborhood. “We will be good neighbors,” she said.
Along with playing music together, they children enjoy games, and a volleyball net and basketball hoop are on the list of items they have in their minds.
But at the moment they can only imagine those things, knowing that with the help of Habitat for Humanity and scores of volunteers they have yet to meet, all of that will become reality soon.