Kourtney Hairston gave her three children an early Christmas gift Saturday, Dec. 15.
That's when she showed them their new house on South Eureka Avenue in the Hilltop -- the 21st home constructed for Habitat for Humanity by the Northwest Partners, a group composed of 10 Tri-Village-area churches.
Hairston's children finally learned that day why their mother had been away from home so often over the past six months.
Hairston put in about 200 hours of work herself on the house, Habitat for Humanity-Columbus Executive Director E.J. Thomas said Dec. 15 as he handed her the keys during a dedication ceremony attended by dozens of volunteers who helped in the project.
After the ceremony, Hairston said it's impossible to adequately put into words her feelings as she assumes ownership of her new home.
"It means so much to my family," she said. "Now we won't be sleeping on top of each other. Everyone will have their own room.
"It should cut down a lot on the fighting," Hairston added with a laugh.
She said she wanted to keep the new home a surprise for her children "in the spirit of the holiday season. I knew we would be moving in close to Christmas.
"Now my children know why I couldn't always be there when they wanted me these last few months," Hairston said.
Along with her children, Hairston's mother also will move into the house.
The member churches of Northwest Partners include Holy Trinity Lutheran, Northwest Christian, St. Mark's, Upper Arlington Lutheran, Riverside United Methodist, Trinity United Methodist, St. Agatha, First Community, St. Andrew's and Covenant Presbyterian.
"We're marking our 25th year with Habitat Columbus, just as they are celebrating their 25th anniversary," said Benton Ross, a Holy Trinity and Northwest Partners member.
Northwest Partners builds one house a year, raising the funds and providing the work hours for construction, he said.
"It takes us about 24 weeks to build a house, from laying the foundation to the finish," Ross said.
The home built for the Hairstons is a two-story, four-bedroom unit with energy-efficient and green features, he said.
"These dedication ceremonies never get old," Ross said. "The moment when we're able to hand a family the keys to their new home is priceless. It means so much to us to be able to provide families with affordable homes."
About 3,000 volunteer hours were donated by Northwest Partners members to build the Hairston home, Thomas said.
"This their 21st house, so they've been working with us for a long, long time," he said. "They provide a lot of hard work and dedication to our mission. We couldn't do what we do without the help of groups like Northwest Partners."