Pahh Selects Families 9 And 10

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Paul Leneberg was giving his two-year-old son a bath when he got the phone call.

The bath was promptly terminated so Leneberg could call his wife, Leah, who was visiting her mother in the Valley.

When this 23-year-old mother of two found out, she says, "I just started screaming. We all started screaming."

That is not an unusual reaction at all among those who learn that their family has been selected to partner in the building of a home through the Payson Area Habitat for Humanity. The Lenebergs are now the organization's 10th homeowner family.

"I wasn't even thinking about the house," Leah says of her response to Paul's phone call two-and-a-half weeks ago. "We weren't expecting to hear anything about it for another week. And then ..."

"And then, we were blessed," says Paul, finishing his wife's sentence.

Blessed like Cindy Campbell was blessed on the very same evening, when the 35-year-old mother of two was informed that she had been chosen to be the owner of Habitat house No. 9.

"I know I would never own my own home unless I got it through Habitat," says Campbell, a self-employed child-care provider and photographer. "So when they called to tell me, I just couldn't believe it. I was so excited."

Her home is expected to be up and ready for occupancy by Campbell and her four children Christina, 16; Jason, 13; Ryan, 8; and Isaiah, 4 by the end of the year.

"Could there be better timing than that?" Campbell wonders aloud. "Here it is only January, and already my kids and I are looking forward to the best Christmas ever."

Dream house come true

PAHH became an affiliate of Habitat for Humanity International in July 1995. Its mission is to build decent, affordable and healthy homes in the Payson area for those in need with low to moderate incomes, giving them a hand up, not a handout.

To date, seven houses have been completed and occupied. Selected families form a partnership with PAHH, perform many hours of sweat equity and provide $1,300 to cover closing costs when house ownership is transferred to them.

The homeowners then make a no-interest monthly mortgage payment to PAHH. This money is plowed back into the building program, allowing more houses to be built.

It's difficult for the Lenebergs to refrain from believing that their new status as homeowners wasn't somehow ordained in heaven, since they never even filled out or turned in a Habitat application.

That was done by Leah's friend and fellow MOMS Club member Monica Oakley, who didn't even mention her good deed until after the fact.

"We thought, 'Oh, that's cool,'" Leah says. "And then everything started ..."

The homeowner benefit this young mother is most looking forward to is having a back yard for her children to play in.

"We don't have anything but a huge open road where we're at now," Leah says. "So a back yard is the main thing."

As for Paul, 22, he can't wait to dive into home improvements on his own home, as opposed to those he works on daily through his job with Amon Builders.

Between now and the time their home is completed sometime in 2003, Paul, Leah and their children, two-year-old Stephen and two-month-old Adam, will have many opportunities for making home improvements while simultaneously working off their 500 hours of "sweat equity."

To that end, they'll also help the owners of Habitat House No. 8, the Jon Lenzmeiers, complete their home; they'll work on Cindy Campbell's house; they'll contribute time to PAHH's annual Spaghetti Dinner March 14, as well as its Second Annual Payson Area Habitat Home Run, a 5K walk and run to be held May 11; and they'll assist with the annual Pioneer Title Agency Benefit Golf Tournament slated for Aug. 24.

PAHH will deduct additional sweat equity hours when members of the Campbell and/or Leneberg families participate in the numerous public relations events scheduled for 2002, or work behind the scenes preparing for other events.

One suspects, however, that Paul Leneberg isn't looking for a reduction of his sweat equity.

"I'm really looking forward to working on my own place," he says. "My dad's a master carpenter, and he taught me everything I know. He has buddies, I have buddies, and they're all going to be helping out."

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