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Housewarming party

Habitat for Humanity celebrates latest home

Garrett Neese/Daily Mining Gazette Steve Cadeau, executive director of Copper Country Habitat for Humanity, addresses the crowd during the dedication ceremony for Danielle Thoune’s new house Monday. The group has now helped build 32 homes in the area.

PORTAGE TOWNSHIP — Danielle Thoune was part of a circle of more than 20 people celebrating her new house Monday.

Like her, many of them helped build it.

Thoune and her son Jackson are the latest family to get a home through Copper Country Habitat for Humanity.

The group held a dedication ceremony Monday afternoon for Thoune’s new home on Green Acres Road. It’s the 32nd home the group has built locally since 1985, said executive director Steve Cadeau.

Thoune has known about Habitat since she was a child. Her mother worked for Habitat in Marquette, and Thoune had spent her summers working on the houses.

Garrett Neese/Daily Mining Gazette Rev. Brahm Semmler Smith leads the candle lighting ceremony during the Copper Country Habitat for Humanity ceremony dedicating the new home for Danielle Thoune and her son Jackson.

Thoune moved back to the Upper Peninsula with Jackson four years ago to be closer to her mother.

“We lived in a one-bedroom apartment with very limited safe resources, and I knew that I couldn’t let pride get in the way of providing for my son,” she said.

She applied for a Habitat home in 2021, which broke ground in June 2022.

Thoune’s been working on it ever since. Habitat requires the families to put in between 200 and 250 hours of sweat equity, depending on how many adults are in the family.

Some of those hours came at Bridgefest, where Thoune helped sell raffle tickets. But most came from working on the house.

Garrett Neese/Daily Mining Gazette Friends, family and Copper Country Habitat for Humanity members lift their hands in prayer at the end of the dedication ceremony for the new home of Danielle Thoune and her son Jackson.

“I literally have blood sweat and tears in this house, from the foundation,” she said. “I’ve had my hand in every part of this house except for the roof — and nobody wants me up on the roof. I raked the gravel that is underneath this house.”

In addition to the 200 hours, Thoune also pays a 30-year mortgage.

“I worked for every bit of this, and I will keep paying just like everybody else on a 30 year mortgage,” she said. “This isn’t something that’s unattainable for everyone. If you have the need, apply, because Habitat is here to support everyone. And it doesn’t have to be a single parent. Ask for what you need.”

The three-bedroom home is 1,300 square feet. It also has one-and-a-half baths, which Thoune said will be the goal for Houghton County Habitat homes going forward.

The Habitat homes are energy efficient, Cadeau said. In the L’Anse rehabilitation the group will celebrate next, the home was able to go from the time it was finished until February without needing to turn on the heat.

Garrett Neese/Daily Mining Gazette Rev. Brahm Semmler Smith reads a prayer during the Copper Country Habitat for Humanity ceremony dedicating the new home for Danielle Thoune and her son Jackson.

“That’s an example of how well-built our homes are,” he said.

One weekend when Thoune was out of town, a work crew put up the walls and joists. From that point on, she was able to conceptualize where every room in the house would be.

“That was the moment I was like, ‘Oh, I can see myself in this room, and this is where my son gets to put his stuff and build his future,'” she said. “We talked about how around the island, my son’s going to be able to do his homework. So now I get to see everything. And then I put the windows in and I was like, ‘Oh, this is what it feels like to be enclosed.’ And so it’s really cool to see every little process and just imagining every little piece from there.”

At the end of Monday’s ceremony, Thoune received the keys, a Bible and gifts, which included a blanket.

Looking on were Habitat staff, friends, and immediate and extended family from as far away as Texas.

Garrett Neese/Daily Mining Gazette Danielle Thoune and her son Jackson participate in a candle lighting ceremony during the Copper Country Habitat for Humanity dedication of their new home.

“There’s that cliche about ‘It takes a village,’ and moving to the Copper Country, my village just kind of appeared,” Thoune said. “…Small towns come together and they help everyone who has the courage to ask for it. Ninety percent of the people in there I met four years ago, and here they are, helping me with my family.”

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