New family chosen for Habitat House

Brandy Benes, with her daughter Brianne and son Parker of New Prague are the next Habitat for Humanity recipients. For more photos click on the blue button, lower right. (Patrick Fisher Photo)

"The house is yours!" Bonnie Welch said to her daughter Brandy Benes during a surprise visit on Tuesday, April 23.

Bonnie was referring to the Habitat for Humanity house at 300 First Ave. SE in New Prague. Also surprising Brandy at her Eastview Estates apartment was her dad Roger Welch of Le Center, best friend Amber Denzer of New Prague, with her children Lauryn and Tyson, Brandy’s daughter Brianne, 15, and members of the New Prague Habitat for Humanity. Brandy’s son Parker, 9, watched, grinning, then shouted, "Group hug!"

For a moment Brandy was overcome as she received hugs and congratulations. New Prague Habitat for Humanity representatives Joan Goggins, Bill Belkengren, Sue Karan and WA "Bink" Bender presented the family with presents, balloons and a cake. The local Habitat is part of the Habitat for Humanity South Central Minnesota Chapter.

"We’ve never had this many people here," said Brandy, smiling. She was very surprised by the visit. "Especially to see her," referring to her daughter. Brianne attends the Minnesota State Academy for the Deaf in Faribault and had made a special trip for the surprise.

Roger said the house will give his daughter a chance to garden. "We’re a hands in the dirt type," he noted.

"I’m just excited," said Bonnie. "I’ve told the girls at work and one is just as excited as I am. This couldn’thappen at a better time. This is a blessing."

"I’m just ecstatic. I’m just really blown away," said Brandy, who works for Trans Alarm in Burnsville.

She and her children have been in their apartment for nearly five years. It has three rooms, but Brandy admits, "It’s kind of running out of room with the kids growing."

"She really deserves it," said Amber. "She works so hard. It’s a miracle. It’s pretty exciting and I know the kids are super excited."

The family will be expected to help with some of the work on the structure, as part of the Habitat for Humanity program.

While the house along First Avenue SE, New Prague’s fourth Habitat house, has been slowly going up over the last year, it already has some history. Originally Jennifer and Christian Lake and their three children were chosen in April, 2012. By September they had withdrawn their names as Christian had decided to study to become a pastor and didn’t know which seminary he would be attending. Since then Habitat has been searching for a new family.