Habitat for Humanity House for Madrid

What some would call fate, others call the workings of a loving God. After Habitat for Humanity secured a building lot for its first new home to be built in Madrid since 2008, an unexpected challenge became finding a qualified and worthy family prepared for the rigors of building, maintaining and paying for their own home.

As a Christian ministry, Habitat first reached out to the Madrid Ministerial Association, asking local pastors and church staff who they might know struggling to secure decent housing. None surfaced.

Free public information meetings at the Madrid Public Library were advertised and offered. Not a single person attended. Posters were placed throughout the community and Habitat volunteers spread the word for families interested in owning a home for less than the cost of renting. A couple of applications came in, but the right fit was elusive. And then one day the skies opened. After Heart of Iowa Habitat executive director, Erich Kretzinger, stopped at Madrid City Hall to share his struggles in finding a qualified family, staff members recalled “this one guy”. He’s so happy and nice all the time, even after riding his wheelchair across town to pay the family’s water bill each month. They knew he and his wife had great kids, but that they were also struggling with their current housing. Maybe Habitat should give them a try.

Making their apartment his next stop, Kretzinger found only the teenage daughter at home. She took his business card, thanked him and the door closed. Another dead end. Or so it seemed. But before he could get to the edge of town his phone was ringing with an excited Kim Mohr on the other end hoping this might be the answer to their many prayers. They had been needing assistance with housing for some time and had all but given up hope. Upon meeting the family, Kretzinger knew right away how truly special they were. Strong in their Christian faith, they had indeed been praying for an answer like Habitat for Humanity.

Mark Mohr, fully disabled and in a wheelchair, was brain-injured in a high school car accident that landed him in an Omaha hospital for six months, with the first six weeks in a coma. Afterward he was unable to speak, but eventually started speech and physical therapy that allowed him to talk and walk with assistance once again. He returned home requiring eight hours of rehabilitation each day.

After placing an ad in the local newspaper for housekeeping assistance, Mark soon met the love of his life in Kim, who just happened to be his new in-home caregiver. He instantly became a father for four stepchildren Mark calls “beautiful”, and they later welcomed their own son. Today he chases after that active 4-year- old while also doing the family’s laundry and dishes. Most importantly, he continues to enjoy the blessings of life.

And there’s also Tank, an always-happy and muscle-bound golden retriever mix that gets daily workouts pulling Mark around the neighborhood for his favorite pastime – visiting. Having become disabled at such a young age, Mark does not receive much in the form of financial assistance. As a genuinely caring person, Kim continues to work as an in-home caregiver, though the rate of pay can make it a struggle to cover basic living expenses. Through careful budgeting and avoiding unnecessary extras, they have still been able to remain nearly debt-free.

What the Mohr family needs most is a home that Mark can easily enter and get around in for many years to come while also being safe, healthy, efficient and affordable for the entire family. When prospects were most bleak, both the Mohrs and Habitat for Humanity believe it was God’s loving hand that answered prayers and guided them to each other.

Construction of the Mohr’s Habitat for Humanity home begins in April, 2017, at 406 South Water Street in Madrid.

Habitat for Humanity is a nonprofit Christian ministry dedicated to eliminating substandard and poverty housing. All persons are welcome as partner families and volunteers regardless of religious beliefs or affiliations.