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Refugee family will celebrate Christmas this year in their new Neenah home

Local News

NEENAH, Wis. (WFRV) A refugee family from Kenya will celebrate Christmas this year in their new home in Neenah. Kris Schuller reports it’s another success story for the Greater Fox Cities Area Habitat for Humanity.

In this Neenah neighborhood a family’s dream is about to come true, as they cut a ribbon and take possession of their new home, made possible through the Greater Fox Cities Area Habitat for Humanity.

“It’s a dream coming true during a pandemic and to have something like this, yes, it’s really joy,” said Samuel Pilipili.

Pilipili was a refugee in Kenya. In 2016 he moved his family to the U.S., eventually settling in Wisconsin to start a new life. Wanting to own a home he reached out to Fox Cities Habitat, whose mission is to help families become homeowners.

“He walked into the office where he met me and the journey to homeownership began,” said a staff member with Habitat.

“The great thing about this family is their positive attitude. They were so gracious throughout the entire process, willing to do whatever they needed to do to make this dream become a reality for them,” said John Weyenberg, CEO of Greater Fox Cities Area Habitat for Humanity.

This is the 15th home to be built by Habitat this year. But because of the pandemic the construction process had to be altered just a bit.

“What we had to do early in the pandemic, it was just our staff out building homes and they do a great job. But obviously many hands make light work,” Weyenberg said.

But that didn’t keep Samuel’s family from completing their sweat equity, volunteering with Habitat whenever and wherever needed.

“They’ve put 500 hours in and 30 hours of education. They’ve earned that opportunity,” said Mike Weller, a Habitat board member and contributing sponsor.

“It’s a long way from conflict zones – to a place where you can feel safe,” said Pilipili.

A place that is their own, a place they now call home.

“You have to be in a place where you feel secure and feel peace, not just for yourself but for your family,” said Pilipili.

Thirteen sponsors helped fund the project. But the Pilipili family will pay it back, through a no-interest home mortgage.

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