ST. GEORGE — After unidentified individuals vandalized a home meant for a Southern Utah family, the St. George community came together to repair and outdo the original plans for the project.
Homes for Hearts, a non-profit organization, founded a program called “The Giving House” which provides significant reductions in costs during the real estate process for service men and women in the community, including firefighters, police officers, former or active military members, teachers and those who foster or have adopted families.
“We all know that the housing prices are high, but we also need community, these community service works in particular, to make our community run and run smoothly,” Cydnee Jacobson, founder of Homes for Hearts, told St. George News.
In late May, volunteers found paint, stain and calking covering walls and floors throughout the entire home one Friday morning after unidentified individuals vandalized the house the previous night. At the time, the project was only weeks away from completion and the organization had already begun accepting nominations for a deserving family.
The damage was estimated to be between $15,000 and $20,000, and the organization had to redo floors, walls, windows and doors. After the incident became public, Jacobson said the community came out in droves to help the organization with repairs and continued renovations.
“I am completely humbled at all of the people that showed up,” she said. “Community service workers donating time and labor, or even businesses that donated materials helped get it cleaned up and restored it to better than before.”
In the weeks leading up to the home’s final completion, the organization chose “the most beautiful, perfect family,” who Jacobson said the organization “couldn’t have even hand-picked if we tried.”
On Tuesday afternoon, outside of the newly finished home, Homes for Hearts held a ribbon-cutting ceremony where the family was given the keys just in time to celebrate Thanksgiving only a couple of days later.
The family of three has lived in Southern Utah for their whole lives, and the couple became Mr. and Mrs. Rowley five years ago.
Brandon Rowley — who works with disabled adults in the community — and Heidi Rowley — a Washington County School District teacher — fell in love with the home on Zillow and contacted their realtor who told the family they were just what the organization was looking for.
Brandon and Heidi closed on the home earlier this week and will be living in the three-bedroom, two-bathroom home with their young son, who was born with Down Syndrome, as they prepare for their second child.
“We were so excited because we had been looking for a little while, and we were hoping to get in before the next little one came,” Heidi Rowley told St. George News.
After the devastating vandalism back in May, Jacobson said she never could have imagined a family like the Rowley’s moving into such a beautiful home before Thanksgiving.
Jacobson founded Homes for Hearts after experiencing living in foster care as a young woman. She said growing up it was difficult to feel like she had a home, and Jacobson organized the foundation to help ensure more people feel loved, safe and protected.
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