H4H Charlene and Joshua Rye

Charlene and Joshua Rye hold a “welcome home” cake at the dedication of their house built by volunteers from Habitat for Humanity.

Over 50 people took a walk through the house completed for Hamilton residents Joshua and Charlene Rye on March 23.

The Habitat for Humanity’s official dedication served as a thank you to all the volunteers.

“They did a blessing of the house and for me and Josh,” Rye said. “It was to acknowledge everyone who worked so hard to make it happen.”

Rye said owning a home is beyond a dream come true.

“It was something I never even thought about,” she said. “I never thought this would be possible. I am disabled and on a very fixed income, I never considered buying a house. A friend dared me to turn in a pre-application and I never thought it would go anywhere.”

That was two years ago.

Then Habitat asked her to fill out a full application.

“It just progressed from there. We had a home visit and on July 3 they told us that we were chosen,” she said. “July 4th was a big day that we celebrated with fireworks not just for the Fourth of July but to celebrate the fact that Josh was getting his home. I tell everyone it is Josh’s house and I’m just paying for it.”

Habitat for Humanity requires 500 hours of “sweat equity” for the homes they help people buy. Joshua was 10 at the time the building started and deemed too young to truly build but by selling gallons of lemonade at his custom built stand he helped raise funds toward the house.

“It was such a long process I didn’t think it would happen,” Charlene Rye said, “but when I heard my son giggling with his friend in his room at the dedication that’s when it hit me that it was real. That’s why I was doing it so he could do that.”

Charlene Rye said she is most looking forward to plumbing that works.

“The plumbing where we are now doesn’t work so good,” she said. “I see now that people aren’t as cold-hearted as I thought they were, that was a pretty big deal. I haven’t had good luck with people and after moving here from Mississippi it was a huge culture shock that turned out to be the best thing I have ever done. Josh is my first priority.”

Rye said she has done everything Habitat asked “and then some” to insure her son could have a safe place to play without a spider infection.

“We won’t have to worry about spiders dropping on our head in the shower now,” she said. “Josh has never been able to have friends over because he was embarrassed about the spiders. For him to be able to have friends over like a normal 11-year-old is the most important thing ever. I’m thrilled he can have a safe place to be a kid and be silly and play with a friend.”

Rye said her son has autism and is in Special Olympics.

“He does bocce ball and swimming. He is a fish in the water,” she said.

Rye said she feels grateful to Habitat for Humanity.

“I thank everyone for coming together to help a total stranger achieve a dream we didn’t even know we had,” she said. “Thank you for making a little boy’s dream of having his own bathtub come true. All we have is a shower stall and he’s been dreaming of having a bath for six years.”

The Rye’s are moving in soon and when the weather warms up even more the installation of sod and the exterior painting the house (light blue) will take place.

“Josh chose all the paint colors and it is beautiful with lovely blues for his bedroom and the bathroom, and a golden cream color for the rest of the house,” Charlene Rye said. “They are really, really nice colors.”

She said Habitat for Humanity is “amazing.”

“These are the nicest people I have ever met,” she said. “Every one of them has been incredible helpful and generous. They are genuine people. We are blessed to have met them and worked with them.”

Kevin Bisel with Habitat for Humanity called the Ryes a “wonderful family partner.”

“They are a great family,” Bisel said. “He is just the happiest kids imaginable and Charlene couldn’t be a better mom. I’m just so happy for them, words can’t even explain how worthy they are of home ownership.”

Habitat for Humanity of Ravalli County seeks to “put God’s love into actions and brings people together to build homes, communities and hope.”

For more visit ravallihabitat.org.