Taylor and Heather Boggs stood with shovels in a symbolic gesture of turning dirt, along with their two children, 7-month-old Hunter and 3-year-old Kira, who even had her own tiny shovel to do her part.
As they say, it was a dream come true for the Boggs family, which will be the new inhabitants of Habitat for Humanity's fourth home in the Storm Lake and Lakeside area.
"I can't begin to tell you how excited and enthused we are about this," Taylor told the crowd. "I want to thank you so much .
"We've been through some nasty times, I hope this is the ray of light at the end of the tunnel."
The Boggs, who have been married for four years, both agree this is a great opportunity. "The only thing I can think of saying is it's amazing what people do when they get together like this," Taylor said after the groundbreaking ceremony.
While the future seems bright, Taylor and Heather still remember the dark times, which started in 1998 when Taylor was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma and spent 4 1/2 months in radiation treatments.
"We owned a house and were working on owning a vehicle," Taylor said. "But then the medical bills started coming, and we lost the car, we lost our house."
Taylor recovered, and the Boggs thought their
lives would be on the upswing. Both worked in area jobs that paid well, but in the latter part of 2000, Taylor and Heather were forced out due to "restructuring."
"I was fresh off of cancer treatments, so it was not very good for awhile," Taylor said.
But now the Boggs are hopeful for a new start. Taylor works as a certified nursing assistant at Methodist Manor and plans to go back to school next fall to become a registered nurse. Heather plans to stay at home with their two small children.
"This is the light at the end of the tunnel. Hopefully it will help us start something new, something solid," Taylor said.
As a group of local Habitat for Humanity volunteers gathered for the groundbreaking Wednesday, chapter president Bob Ferguson said he considered postponing the groundbreaking. His mind changed after he received a message from the founder of Habitat for Humanity, he said, urging chapters across the nation to keep working.
"With our thoughts elsewhere, I thought it was even more important to get together for events like this today," Ferguson told the crowd. "While today is a day of mourning, it's a day of celebration for the Boggs and their family.
"Today in a small way in this empty lot in Lakeside, Iowa, we're rebuilding hope," Ferguson said.
Rev. Duane Queen noted the importance to keep working in a prayer he led. "Love is greater than hate, building up is better than tearing down," he said.
Work will begin in the next couple of weeks with hopes of enclosing the house before winter, so volunteers can work towards completing the house by next spring.
The Boggs have picked a three-bedroom floor plan for their new home. They will work side-by-side with Habitat for Humanity volunteers to contribute hands on to the building of their new home.
For Taylor, who has had a couple of years of residential construction training, he looks forward to the "sweat equity."
"I'm looking forward to pounding some nails and shingles, and doing some work," he said.
The Boggs are working with Low Mittelstadt of the local Habitat chapter to prepare for ownership of their home. Habitat for Humanity partners with families to provide financing options and resources for the construction of a new home.
For more information about ways you can help Habitat for Humanity, contact Bob Ferguson at 732-3121.