Habitat for Humanity-Winona Fillmore County is pleased to announce the start of its 47th home. The 1,400-square-foot, four-bedroom home in Harmony will be purchased by Bryna Kohn and her three children, Dyllon, Devan and Dolten.

Community members are invited to join in the celebration of a groundbreaking at 5:15 p.m. On Thursday, April 12, for a brief ceremony at 165 Niagara Court, Harmony, to mark the beginning of this great partnership between the Kohn family and the local Habitat affiliate.

"We are so happy that we can celebrate the start of the first house in Harmony. The Harmony Steering Committee has been working hard over the past two years anticipating this day. Through their work the Habitat affiliate was able to purchase the property to build an energy efficient, affordable home in Harmony," said Megan Grebe, Fillmore County Coordinator.

Habitat for Humanity builds with Insulated Concrete Forms, a concrete-and-foam wall system that results in a very air tight, very well insulated home. Inside the walls, the homes incorporate energy-efficient appliances, low-allergen flooring, and low-flow plumbing fixtures; all in addition to a rigorous homeowner education process that includes home maintenance and energy conservation.

As a result, third party testing found each home to be 50 percent more efficient than a standard new home! Habitat homeowners in similar homes built by Habitat for Humanity Winona-Fillmore Counties have seen an annual utility savings of up to $400 over the Minnesota average!

To qualify for a Habitat home, families must currently live in substandard housing, be unable to obtain a conventional loan from a bank, have the resources to pay a monthly mortgage and be willing to partner with Habitat for Humanity. Before moving into a Habitat home, families must contribute 300 hours of "sweat-equity" to the building of the home and must make a modest down payment.

Habitat for Humanity Winona-Fillmore Counties built its first home in Winona County in 1994. Since then, 44 homes have been built. In addition to the 25 homes within the city of Winona, Habitat has built homes in Lewiston, St. Charles, Minnesota City, Altura, Stockton and Rushford. Homes are being built in Harmony, Utica and Winona during 2012.

Volunteers interested in helping with Habitat for Humanity projects or offering donations may call the Habitat for Humanity-Fillmore County office at (507) 459-4199 or visit our website at www.habitatwinona.org.

Informational meetings for all of Fillmore County

Habitat for Humanity Winona-Fillmore Counties will be holding a series of informational meetings to explore building other Habitat Homes in Fillmore County.

Habitat is also starting a new program called "A Brush with Kindness," a program that helps low income homeowners by offering exterior home improvements. Volunteer teams work to improve the condition of the homes by painting, landscaping and minor exterior repairs at minimal costs to homeowners who would be unable to complete home repairs on their own.

Everyone who is interested in learning more about Habitat and the possibilities in Fillmore County should attend one of the following meetings. Members of the current Harmony Steering Committee and Fillmore County Advisory Committee will be available to answer questions and share information about the organization at the following meetings being held throughout the next month.

April 17 at 7 p.m. at the Spring Valley Fire Hall, 120 W. Courtland St.

April 19 at 7 p.m. at the Mabel American Legion, 114 N. Main St.

April 26 at 7 p.m. at the Chatfield Center for the Arts Legion Room, 405 S. Main St.

May 3 at 7 p.m. at the F & M Community Bank in Preston, 100 Saint Anthony St. N.

May 10 at 7 p.m. at the Lanesboro Community Center, 202 Parkway Ave. S.

Habitat for Humanity is a nonprofit, ecumenical, grassroots, Christian organization, dedicated to eliminating poverty housing. Habitat partners with homeowner families, businesses and organizations, members of the local community, and volunteers to build simple, decent, affordable houses. The houses are sold to those in need at no profit, through no-interest loans.

Habitat for Humanity doesn't just build homes; it builds relationships, it builds community, it builds hope. Habitat is able to help families in need only through the generosity of many kind individuals, businesses, churches and organizations throughout the area. If one may have any questions, please contact Megan Grebe at (507) 459-4199 or megan@habitatwinona.org.