Marana resident Brian Ransom is "overwhelmed" in many ways.
Last December, he, wife Berta and their three children were chosen to be the owners of a home that marks the beginnings of a joint venture between Habitat for Humanity Tucson and the Town of Marana. That partnership is a long-term project that will provide affordable housing to needy Marana residents.
"They called us a week before Christmas saying that we got the house," Ransom said. "It was a heck of a Christmas present."
The Ransom family, along with dozens of volunteers from the community and Habitat for Humanity, were on the corner of Hester and Moore in Marana Saturday, raising the walls for the home, which is due to be completed in about eight months.
The home is intended to accommodate a low-income family living in substandard housing, said Michael McDonald, Habitat for Humanity Tucson's executive director and one of the many volunteers working Saturday. Another home planned next to the Ransoms already has a long list of applicants for ownership.
Habitat moved in after the town sold it two lots, valued at around $25,000 each, for a total of $6,000. The town also agreed to waive all fees except for those imposed by Pima County.
The town had a heavy presence at the construction site Saturday, with Mayor Ed Honea and members of the town council nailing boards and raising the home's wooden walls.
Honea said his hands-on approach is needed to help families in the community, "especially during this hard economic time. We knew we needed to step up and help, and Habitat has a great reputation.
"This is the start of a wonderful partnership," Honea added, "and the pinnacle of community involvement."
"It's remarkable," said Danny Knee, deputy director of Habitat Tucson. "We usually don't see this amount of outpouring from the community and local government as we have in Marana."
McDonald said the town and the greater community "have been amazing" in helping raise the necessary funds to get the home built at a price tag of about $130,000, McDonald estimated.
"I haven't ever seen a mayor out here," McDonald said. "It just shows how vested the town is in the quality of its community."
Nearly 40 individuals and nine organizations have donated everything from the concrete to the wood frame of the house, reaching the house's sponsorship limit of $85,000, McDonald said. A list of volunteers set to keep construction going through the summer is nearly filled. Habitat Tucson will cover the remaining expenses on the house before it is sold to the Ransoms for $105,000. They'll pay it back through a no-interest, 25-year loan.
Top contributor Community Christian Church of Marana has completed about 80 percent of its fiscal goal of donating $30,000 toward the home. The church's pastor, Dave Hedgepeth, said donating to construction of the home "is just part of the importance to be good neighbors and reach out to our community."
Along with setting out a collection jar during services and running events to help raise money for the home, "there are lots of people that just donated here and there, and it all added up."
In taking the home on Moore and Lester, the Ransoms also agree to give 400 hours of service to Habitat Tucson, and to take classes on home management, budgeting and the housing market, "the kind of stuff we need to know to keep on top of things," Brian Ransom said.
Though the service hours will be filled by building his own home, Ransom said he'll continue volunteering with Habitat Tucson to build homes next to his.
"It's been a lot of fun and we've had so much support through this, we just want to pass it on."
McDonald said Habitat Tucson's mission is to help that "pay-it-forward" way of thinking reshape communities and connect neighbors. "It's a hand-up, not a hand-out," McDonald said.