County’s first Habitat home welcomes new owner


GREENFIELD — It took the work of 300 pairs of hands to build Trish Botta’s house.

As Botta smilingly accepted the keys on Friday for the first Habitat for Humanity of Greater Indianapolis house to be built in Hancock County, she talked about the things that will make her newly constructed house feel like a home: painting the walls in cool greens and blues and decorating the bathroom in an owl motif.

About 50 people involved in the construction of Botta’s gray and white house near Center Street came together on Friday for the dedication of the house; this week, Botta will set to work on the finishing touches inside. Habitat for Humanity officials, sponsors of the build and volunteers who donated their time and effort to the construction braved the heat index above 100 degrees to celebrate the last steps of the process.

“We are wonderfully pleased with the whole build,” said Abri Hochstetler, Greater Indy Habitat for Humanity marketing and communications manager. “It went as smoothly as we could have hoped.”

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Habitat, a Christian organization that partners with community stakeholders to provide housing for people in need, relies on donations of both cash and materials, as well as volunteers for its building and renovation projects, Hochstetler said.

At the dedication, Botta thanked all the people who helped to build her house, from the shingles to the doorknobs — but gave God the glory.

“You all have been the hands and feet of Jesus,” she said.

Habitat raised about $75,000 in order to build the four-bedroom house, which took about 11 weeks to complete, Botta said. Pledges and dedicated work days from local businesses and churches aided the construction process. Hancock Regional Hospital, Covance Laboratories and several churches donated days of labor to the organization, Hochstetler said.

Marcia Moore, Ann McKelvey and Sue Lowery, members of Greenfield Christian Church, fanned themselves with programs from the dedication on Friday as they celebrated with Botta. Their church sponsored a work day, and parishioners painted and built a shed that sits alongside Botta’s house. It was a great experience getting to help a person in need, Moore said.

Botta, like all Habitat homeowners, was required to work 300 hours volunteering at other home constructions and to take finance and basic home maintenance classes. She was also required to work 10 days of the build on her house. She went above and beyond that guideline, working at least part of each of the 21 volunteer work days on the project, taking half days off from her job at IUPUI, she said. She lived with a relative in New Palestine while her house was being built, eagerly anticipating the day she could say she owned a home of her own.

The house will have a room for Botta and her daughters, Holly Botta, 18, and Rachel Botta, 21. Holly, who recently graduated from New Palestine High School, said she believes the house is the perfect size for her mom.

Botta didn’t spend her first night in a completely empty house — at the dedication, she received gifts of a tool kit, cleaning supplies, cabinets full of food and more. She also received the gift of one large pizza a month for one year from Domino’s Pizza. New Palestine United Methodist Church donated a daily devotional book to her as well.

Habitat for Humanity of Greater Indianapolis, in its 29th year, hopes to build two houses in Hancock County next year. The organization is seeking qualified applicants for the homes, Hochstetler said.

“The community has fully embraced Habitat — and especially Trish,” she said.

The organization built 25 homes in the greater Indianapolis area in 2015 and plans to build 21 this year.

Habitat operations expanded to include Hancock County in mid 2015, when Habitat opened its Hancock County ReStore, a home improvement thrift store that sells donated new and gently used merchandise at a discount to the public. Proceeds benefit the Greater Indy Habitat for Humanity.

At a Greater Indy Habitat for Humanity kickoff breakfast in late January, organizations officials met with 70-plus community members to talk more about the building project.

Now that she has the keys to her home, Botta will begin payments on a no-interest mortgage, which will be used to fund future Habitat endeavors, Hochstetler said.

At the end of the dedication ceremony, the crowd flooded into Botta’s new house, both to see its contents and to take advantage of the air-conditioning. Botta smiled and accepted hugs amid the smell of fresh white paint and exclaimed as she peered into the full pantry.

She said being able to decorate her house just as she likes is a thrill.

That owl-themed bathroom is top of the list.

“I’ve got all my owl stuff in my car right now,” she said.

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Greater Indy Habitat for Humanity is looking to partner with first-time homebuyers living in Marion, Hendricks and Hancock counties.

Applicants must:

  • Show they have had a stable income for the past two years
  • Prove financial need
  • Have had no outstanding liens or bankruptcies for two years
  • Agree to take Habitat for Humanity finance classes and volunteer on other home constructions

For more information, visit

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1: complete Habitat for Humanity of Greater Indianapolis house in Hancock County

4: bedrooms in Trish Botta’s new house

21: days to build the house from start to finish

300: people who volunteered to help build the house

$75,000: cost of the house raised by Habitat in Hancock County