MASSENA - A house on the corner of Spruce and Franklin streets in Massena officially became "home, sweet home" for the Smithers family on Saturday.
"The U-Haul's out there," Jody L. Smithers said as he and his family got ready for a dedication ceremony that would officially make the Raquette Valley Habitat for Humanity home theirs.
Joining him for the dedication were his wife, Elizabeth A., and children Aurora, 4, and Cheyene, 3 - along with Racquette Valley Habitat for Humanity officials, volunteers and even neighbors who had watched the site progress from a foundation to a full-fledged, three-bedroom home over the past few months.
They crowded into the living room for the ceremony that took place in the kitchen area and featured prayers, recollections of the build from some of those who were involved, a presentation of a Bible and the keys to the home, and donations from businesses and organizations that will help continue the RVHfH cause.
Mr. Smithers and his family were among those who helped build the home as part of their "sweat equity" for RVHfH.
"I never knew what it took to go into a house," he said. "I never thought it would turn out this nice."
Among the special features of the home are murals that were painted in two of the bedrooms. The scenic art featuring butterflies, flowers and more were done by Tammy LaBarge from Triple "A" Building Center.
Site Supervisor Ernie Jock said it was appropriate to hold a dedication ceremony on a Saturday since most of their builds using volunteer labor took place on Saturdays.
"I'm very pleased. This is probably one of the best houses I've been involved with," Mr. Jock said. "I love those butterflies and flowers."
He credited the volunteers and God for another successful Raquette Valley Habitat for Humanity build.
"Without prayer on my part and God calling me here as site supervisor, it would not be possible," Mr. Jock said, also thanking the volunteers who had "given of themselves so openly, so freely."
"I thank all the volunteers for coming out and helping. This house turned out awesome," he said.
RVHfH President Cindy Atkins said this was the first time she was "intimately involved with building a house," and she also commended the volunteers and project supporters for their efforts.
"I can't thank you enough for all your generosity in everything you've done," she said.
Mr. Smithers said he couldn't thank them enough either.
"This is just a dream that's come true. I'd just like to thank everybody for everything," he said.
Although the house was complete, the donations kept coming in during the ceremony. The Northern New York Lumber Dealer's Association, which includes Bicknell Building Supply, JC Merriman and Triple "A" Building Center presented a $1,000 check that came from activities like a bowl-a-thon.
Triple "A" Building Center owner Robert Ashley also presented a $1,000 check to Ms. Atkins on behalf of his business.
"The money goes into houses such as this one," she said.
A luncheon at Emmanuel Congregational United Church of Christ followed the dedication. But before they left the home, Ms. Atkins had one more request.
"There's a U-Haul out there. If everyone grabbed a box it would help start to turn this into a home. I just thought it would be a nice gesture on our part to help turn the home over to them," she said.