It has been said that it takes a village to raise a child. But for Dia Chang of Sheboygan, it has taken a global non-profit housing organization, a unique city program, a slew of volunteers, including many from her home church of St. Peter Claver, Sheboygan, and her and her families’ own hard work to raise a brand new home.

Members of the Chang family pose for a photo in front of their Habitat for Humanity home which is under construction in Sheboygan. Pictured are Nko Hnou, left to right, Pa Kou, Ricky, Dia and Jacky Chang. The family hopes to move into the home in June. View or purchase related photos(Catholic Herald photo by Sam Arendt)Chang and her four children, who range in ages from 12 to 20, will move into a newly built house on Erie Avenue in Sheboygan in an area that is known as the Gateway Corridor, a main arterial off of I-43 that brings motorists into downtown Sheboygan.

The Chang house is being built with funds and volunteers from Habitat for Humanity on a lot purchased by the group from the City of Sheboygan.

The city has purchased eight lots in this area – and would like to purchase four other nearby pieces of property – and plans to combine and sell these narrow lots to hopefully build six Habitat homes. The project will not only provide affordable housing for qualified families, but it will also revitalize this area.

According to Chang’s daughter, Pakua Vue, the faith community of St. Peter Claver was instrumental in helping her family realize their dream of home ownership.

“The church has been really supportive. It’s because of the church that we were able to get the information and application for the house. We feel very blessed to be part of the St. Peter Claver Church community. We are just really happy,” Vue said.

Joan and Dennis Ketterman, members of St. Peter Claver, are involved with Habit for Humanity. Joan is a member of the Family Selection Committee, a small group of people who try to publicize the no-interest loans available for qualifying families, while Dennis is active in several Habitat programs.

They were instrumental in helping the Chang family connect with Habit for Humanity. Dennis Ketterman reached out to the Hmong leaders in the church and explained the program, and they in turn explained it to some of the families, which is how the Chang family heard about it.

Qualifications for the no-interest loans are based on income and number of people living in the home.

“Most of the people might have difficulty qualifying for a typical mortgage through a bank, but they still have to have the income and job history to be responsible to make monthly mortgage payments because they do maintain a mortgage … it’s just a no-interest mortgage. We want the families to be successful,” Joan Ketterman said.Bonnie Siech, left to right, Joyce Duffy and Joan Ketterman are among the volunteers helping construct the Sheboygan Habitat for Humanity home for the Chang family in this photo taken last October. View or purchase related photos(Catholic Herald photo by Sam Arendt)

The actual building of the Changs’ home – a two-story, four-bedroom structure – is supervised by a Habitat for Humanity site manager. Volunteers from many organizations and churches across Sheboygan County help with the actual construction, including a group of volunteers from St. Peter Claver.

Bonnie Siech, one of the St. Peter Claver volunteers, said she was helping out because, “I always wanted to do a little more. You know, you go to church and you fulfill that commitment, but for me being a Christian is going out and helping in the community.”

Pat Duffy, another St. Peter Claver volunteer, said, “This is a great experience. Learning things, but also being with people like this and meeting other people. The other group here is from a different church and we worked with them. So that was kind of nice.”

Joan Ketterman said the volunteers’ involvement is an extension of the church’s mission.

“It’s nice to see the church community – and the Hmong community within the church – come together,” she said.

In addition to the volunteers, the Chang family is required to put in 500 hours of “sweat equity” in building their home. According to Vue, it is a process she and her family have embraced.

“I worked a lot and learned a lot helping to build walls. It was a really fun experience and I got to meet a lot of people. I really enjoyed it,” she said.

Vue, in translating for her mother, said the whole family was “very excited” about moving into the new house – the first one her mom has ever owned.

The move-in date is dependent on many things, including weather and number of volunteers, but Joan Ketterman is hoping the family will be in their new home this spring.

“I’m really excited myself about it. The fact that it’s going to be just our family – we live in a duplex now – it’s just nice to know,” Vue said.

 Their excitement is shared by Dennis Ketterman.

“There’s nothing cooler than turning over the keys,” he said. “It’s a great thing.”