A mother stood with her children for a photo in front of their new home.
A stream of people congratulated her. Some were family and friends, some were volunteers who helped her build her new house.
Sarah Weinhandl thanked them Friday at a dedication celebration. Her three-bedroom home is in Habitat for Humanity’s new Harris Crossing subdivision in east Casper, which will eventually include 13 houses.
Next week, her family will be the first to move into the new subdivision, the largest Habitat for Humanity project in Casper, according to the organization.
Starting next weekend, Weinhandl will have a home where her children — 1-year-old daughter Avery and 6-year-old son Layton — have room to play. They now live on the third floor of an apartment building.
The move comes just in time for Layton to start first grade at a nearby school. The boy has already talked about how much he likes the home, especially the backyard, his mother said after the ceremony on Friday.
“Living in a third floor apartment, I can’t just send him outside to play,” she said after the ceremony. “So now he can just go out there.”
Weinhandl, an assistant manager at Porter’s Mountain View Supply, has been through many obstacles as she worked on her new home, including a foot injury and her son being diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.
“It’s been a very hard thing to adjust to and get used to. But now that we have a home of our own and we have this stability of our home, it’s amazing,” she told the small crowd at the ceremony.
Habitat for Humanity homeowners purchase their own homes with affordable mortgages, said Habitat for Humanity program manager Kelly Cooper. They also help with construction.
Weinhandl wanted to be hands-on through the process, said construction manager and general contractor Shawn Martz, who’s worked with the local Habitat for Humanity for about a decade and teaches skills to volunteers and homeowners. She always said: “I can do that,” and “let me do that,” he said.
“Everybody’s a little bit different but she’s definitely a go-getter,” Weinhandl said.
The celebration was a reward for all the hard work, which will impact generations in the family, he added.
“Sometimes when you’re in the middle of it, sometimes you think is it worth all the extra hours, late nights early mornings, but the culmination, everything at the end — it’s worth it,” he said. “And then seeing how this is going to benefit her family, you’re really impacting generations because it’s going to impact her kids as well and then hopefully would impact her grandkids.”
Weinhandl built her deck almost from start to finish, except for the rails, she said. She also helped at a house of her future neighbor, Kristen Hayes, whose home is expected to be finished this fall.
She wanted to work hands-on with every part of the project, Weinhandl said.
“If I missed it at my house, I was over at Kristen’s hanging Sheetrock and things like that,” she said.
The project helped Weinhandl learn skills she plans to use to help build more houses in the subdivision and for projects and repairs on her own home in the future, like a fence she wants to build around her yard.
Weinhandl became friends with some community volunteers who regularly worked on her house. Some were there on Friday along with her family, who also helped her through the process, she said.
Weinhandl’s mother, Terri, also attended the ceremony. She said her daughter isn’t just the recipient of help, but also looks out for others.
“She’s a great person, and all the pieces were there and everything has just finally come together this last year for her, so it’s awesome,” Terri said. “She knows that it’s going to be a tough road being a single mom, but she’s willing to take it on and this is just one step to get her to where she wants to be.”
Mom usually hosts the holidays, but this year Weinhandl plans to host a Thanksgiving or Christmas at the new house, Terri said.
“We’re very appreciative and we thank the community for helping her,” she added.
Jessica Leslie has been Weinhandl’s partner as part of the Habitat for Humanity homeowners support committee. Weinhandl stayed strong through the entire process, Leslie said.
“She’s kept her head up and continued to move forward,” she said. “She’s an amazing mother; she always puts her kids before herself and she’s worked tremendously hard on her new house.”