Open house celebrates a ‘beautiful moment’

Celebrating at the open house for New Prague’s fourth Habitat House are, from left, Parker, Brandy and Brianne Benes, Julie Schmillen, executive director of Habitat for Humanity of South Central Minnesota, and Kelli Hanson Magnuson, volunteer coordinator. The Benes family received the house during a Thursday, Aug. 22, ceremony. To see more photos go to and click on the Blue Button. (Patrick Fisher Photo)

At least 50 people celebrated what was described as a "beautiful moment" for the Benes family on Thursday, Aug. 22. Brandy Benes, her daughter Brianne and son Parker received New Prague’s fourth Habitat for Humanity house during a dedication ceremony and open house.

            Joyce Atchison gave the opening prayer, the blessing of the house and the benediction for the ceremony. She offered thanks to God, the work of everyone involved and the "blood, sweat and tears that went into the building of this house." She thanked everyone for being there with Benes as they celebrated this "beautiful moment."

            Construction site supervisor Bill Belkengren gave the scripture reading of Mark 12:28-31. When Jesus was asked what was the most important commandment he said, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself."

            "I want to thank this community for its volunteer work. This community supports Habitat big time and I’m proud to be a part of this community," said Belkengren.

            Attending the ceremony were members of Habitat for Humanity of South Central Minnesota and its New Prague branch. Among them were Joan Goggins, W.A. "Bink" Bender and Susan Karan of the New Prague committee. Also attending was Sister Jean Juenemann who helped start the New Prague Habitat for Humanity.

            In attendance from Habitat for Humanity of South Central Minnesota were executive director Julie Schmillen and volunteer coordinator Kelli Hanson Magnuson. Schmillen presented the Benes family with a Bible. "This is a very special day for Brandy and her family," said Schmillen. The family also received prayer shawls or quilts from members of St. Wenceslaus Catholic Church.

            Tess Howard, who received the second Habitat House in town, and members of New Prague Girl Scouts Troop 25222 gave Benes and her children five gift baskets. The baskets included such things as movies, cleaning supplies and food. Howard was standing in for troop leader Nikki Beissel.

            Howard said the Girl Scouts all had a certain amount they could spend when they went shopping. "Welcome to your new home and enjoy it very much," said Howard.

            "I’m so excited. I feel so blessed," said Benes in a brief, but emotional speech. "Thank you for the house."

            "We stand in awe of you and everything you do," said Hanson Magnuson of Benes. She explained that Benes completed her 200 hours of sweat equity in four to five months. "Thank you and welcome to the neighborhood."

            The local Habitat for Humanity is beginning work for a fifth house in New Prague, which will be built in 2014. They are taking applications, which can be found at the New Prague Library, 400 Main St. E. A fundraising event is planned for Sunday, Oct. 6, at the Lakeside Supper Club.