BARBERTON — Lisa and Allen Archibald will always remember Tuesday for the magic it brought them and their five grandchildren.
A new home on Douglass Avenue in Barberton — so new that hay still covered the front yard where grass would grow and the children would play. So new, the smell of fresh paint was still in the hallways.
In a ceremony with Habitat for Humanity of Summit County, the Archibalds received the keys to their new home and gifts to help stock it.
Rochelle Sibbio, executive director of the organization, was there to congratulate the family and celebrate with them.
Volunteers and representatives of companies that sponsor Habitat for Humanity were there. So were representatives from the city, including Mayor William Judge.
“I hope you spend a lifetime filling the house with memories,” Judge said.
But the real stars of the day were the Archibalds and the five grandchildren they adopted because they wanted the children to stay together and grow up as a family.
Lisa Archibald said that she and her husband gained permanent custody more than eight years ago after their daughter was unable to care for the kids. The youngest grandchild, Elijah Williams, 9, was just a baby at the time.
“We wanted to establish a home for our grandchildren,” Lisa Archibald said.
The children, she said, helped her find a purpose and reconnect with the world at a time when she was asking big questions about meaning and existence.
“Why am I here? What am I supposed to do?” Lisa Archibald said. “They breathed life back into me.”
Allen Archibald said some of his wife’s renewed vigor helped spark the Habitat for Humanity project that became their home.
One day, his wife called him about a Habitat for Humanity sign she’d seen.
“I told her to go check it out,” he said. “She came back home and said she had signed up.”
Part of the organization’s process is requiring future homeowners to work toward their goal, and the Archibalds did — working in the organization’s office and store.
Individual and corporate volunteers put in a lot of hours, too, not the least among them Barberton-based Blind & Sons, which provided the HVAC, electrical and plumbing in the home.
David Ringeis, Blind & Sons electrical manager for the project, said the Archibalds’ story was compelling. So much so, that the company went all-in for this project.
“We did stem to stern,” Ringeis said. “When you hear their story, it’s hard not to come here [and help].”
When the keys were placed in the hands of the new owners, they were passed around among the children — Ja’breah Harmon, 16; Santana Williams, 15; William Harmon, 13; Eren Harmon, 12; and Elijah, 9 — who had prepared brief thank-you messages to those who helped make their home a reality.
Ja’breah made a special thank you to Blind & Sons, and Elijah thanked everyone. The other children expressed their gratitude, too.
“Thank you very much for all who participated in helping our dream come true,” William read aloud from his letter.
The nonprofit ecumenical Christian housing ministry started building homes around Akron in 1986
Sibbio said Habitat for Humanity of Summit County has built 209 homes for county residents so far, and 86% are still owned by the original owners. Nearly 30 families have already paid off their mortgages, and the delinquency rate is only 2.5%.
On the Archibald home, Sibbio said, 207 volunteers donated 2,168.3 hours of time.
As the event drew to a close and the volunteers filtered out, the Archibalds’ grandchildren gravitated to the porch.
In response to a question, Elijah said his room was the best in the house, but Ja’breah demurred, insisting hers took the prize.
Already making memories on a magic day.
Alan Ashworth can be reached at 330-996-3859 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @newsalanbeaconjournal.