The Habitat community gathered at a newly constructed three-bedroom, two-bath home on Saturday to celebrate a milestone for first-time homeowner Lanikka and her two children: their home dedication.
Over the span of six months, dozens of helping hands – including Lannika’s own – built Lannika’s new house. As the dedication began, Christina Rupp, Director of Homeowner Services said,“This community is amazing and the strength, the homeowner care, the resilience and the pride of the Tillicum residents is something that is going to uplift this community for generations to come. Lanikka is a very important part of that and has already been deeply invested.”
Habitat homeowner Denise Nicole gave the official welcome on behalf of the neighbors, “As I’m standing here I feel so emotional. I’m just so happy for you and your family because we really did work so hard on our neighborhood and building it… You know how your home is where your heart is? Well your heart’s here in Tillicum and I have a new sister.”
Maureen Fife, Habitat CEO, then presented some housewarming gifts and with them was a small prayer that read:
Lanikka, may you have walls for the wind,
a roof for the rain
and a drinks beside the fire.
Laughter to cheer you;
those you love near you,
and all that your heart may desire.
When it was Lanikka’s turn to address the crowd, she gave a disclaimer: “I have a lot to say, but I’m not a very good public speaker.”
“That’s okay. Speak from your heart,” came a call from the audience.
“It’s been a rollercoaster and I’ve learned a lot,” she continued. “My kids have had time away from me while I worked on the home, so we’re gonna make-up some time after we move in. But it’s all worth it in the end because now we have a home that we can grow in. We have a wonderful family around us. There’s Denise, and Amy, and Ma, and everyone else joining in. It’s been such a blessing to me.” Lanikka acknowledged her family of choice surrounding her: her new neighbors.
“And everyone who helped – all the volunteers, all the Habitat workers. It’s been amazing. We have felt loved by everyone. I’ve been through times in my life where I felt like things aren’t going to get better,” Lanikka’s voice broke, but she finished strong. “I really appreciate everyone.”
Maureen added, “You’ve worked so hard. You’ve been a terrific partner and, [Sean and Lia], not everybody gets to say that their mom built their house. That is pretty cool; she can do anything.”
By the time Pastor Peka Scanlan finished the closing prayers, there wasn’t a dry eye in the room.“Father, my prayer is that you continue to rain favor down on Lanikka and her children. Thank you for all the help from volunteers, all who were involved in the building of this home. But this house is not a home without loving people staying in it. I pray Father that you bless each and everyone here today. Thank you for Maureen and all of Habitat, thank you for all the different volunteers – all the people that we didn’t even know cared so much.”
Following the ceremony, Lanikka’s daughter Lia, age 3, treated attendees to a ballet performance in her new living room. Her brother Sean, age 12, spent the reception upstairs running, shouting, and playing with neighborhood kids – breaking in his new room.
“This house is for them,” Lannika said.