WESTON - Until the Habitat for Humanity of Wood County helped their family purchase their first house last month, Miguel and Tammy Trevino were raising their six children in a mobile home.
Now the family is settling into a five-bedroom home - the biggest one the organization has built - on a quiet street in this Wood County community.
"We feel very blessed," Mr. Trevino said. "This has opened the doors for my family. Words can't even express it, can't express how my family has changed just by simply having that space and the pride to claim this is our home."
Mrs. Trevino is a stay-at-home mom who takes care of their children, who range in age from 1 to 16 years old. Mr. Trevino works two jobs as police chief for the village of McClure, and the parking and traffic department at Bowling Green State University.
Mr. Trevino was one of 19 children raised in Weston. He left the area when he enlisted as a U.S. Marine, later serving in Operation Desert Storm. Upon his discharge, he took a job as a police officer and settled in Oklahoma with his wife. The family returned to northwest Ohio about 10 years ago, when his mother fell ill.
"I didn't want my mom to go to a nursing home, so we lived with her in the trailer," he said. "It wasn't the most conducive for the size of our family."
When she died two years ago, the Trevino family made the decision to stay put.
"At that point I realized, we can't keep picking up and moving. We have to plant our roots somewhere," Mr. Trevino said.
Without the help of Habitat for Humanity, Mr. Trevino said, home ownership would be out of reach.
"It didn't actually hit until they started building, we realized, 'Oh my God, they're building our house,'" Mr. Trevino said.
Though the house was appraised by the Wood County Auditor at about $126,200, the Trevinos purchased the house with no interest on a 30-year mortgage from Habitat for only $90,000. Thanks to financial support from First Energy, local donations of construction materials, and the elbow grease of volunteers, it cost the organization about $75,000 to build.
The home is the first and only the organization will build this year. Construction for another family will likely begin in the spring, Habitat for Humanity of Wood County Executive Director Thomas Ehmke said.
Mr. Ehmke stressed that Habitat for Humanity is not a give-away program.
"We are a zero-percent mortgage bank," Mr. Ehmke said. "Some people think this is a government program or a welfare program or some kind of freebie and it isn't."
To be considered by Habitat for Humanity, families must qualify for financial assistance according to the guidelines created by the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Habitat for Humanity also requires a letter from a bank, stating that the family is ineligible for a traditional mortgage loan.
Habitat for Humanity also holds a second mortgage on the home for the difference between the homeowner's cost and the appraised value, "so the owner can't sell the house a year from now and reap a windfall," Mr. Ehmke said. The homeowner is under contract to repay that second mortgage if that happens, but owe no more if they live in the house the term of the mortgage.
The Trevino family requested a few changes to the original design of the one-story house, according to Dan Carpenter, job supervisor for the Habitat for Humanity. The 1,555 square-foot plan was modified to open up the living room and kitchen, and vinyl was used throughout to help combat some of the children's allergies.
But part of the deal was that the family had to get their hands dirty by pitching in with 500 hours of "sweat equity." It was especially important that the family help on such a quick build - construction began in July and was complete Sept. 27, Mr. Carpenter said.
"They're great," Mr. Carpenter said. "They're a very nice couple, were very willing to do whatever I asked. So congenial. Easy to get along with."
It took at least 10 or 15 volunteers working daily to erect the home. Volunteers came from the Weston United Methodist Church, Weston Church of Christ, and the Sonlight Church of Weston - mostly retired folks that "have a heart for coming and helping Habitat and are handy with a hammer," Mr. Carpenter said.
The Trevino family have been touched by those hearts and hammers, and have pledged to stay involved with Habitat for Humanity to help the next family looking for a home, Mr. Trevino said.
"We're very thankful to everybody and the people that helped," Mr. Trevino said. "We believe we need to be out there and try to help other people as well. There are people that are in worse situations. We don't have it as bad as others."