After more than a year of waiting, McElrath gathered Wednesday with family, friends and long term recovery volunteers for the blessing of her new home.
“When I first started talking to her she said to me that God would take care of her when it was her time and she was going to be patient,” said case manager Cindy Smith. “She was patient. When I kept telling her it’s going to be a little while, she said ‘I’m not worried about it. When it’s God’s time it will be the right time.’”
McElrath did not have to wait long after two teams of Mennonites signed on to the project. Members of Maple Grove Mennonite Church and Hartville Mennonite Church from Hartville, Ohio, built two homes — including McElrath’s — in the past five weeks. The other was the Chambliss home in Parrish.
McElrath called the volunteers ‘angels’ during Wednesday’s ceremony. She said the group made her father’s dying wish — a safe home for her and her brother Cornelius — a reality.
“I now have a house that I don’t have to have kerosene anymore. I live in a house that doesn’t have water underneath it anymore. I don’t have to deal with mildew and so many other things anymore. I’ve got sturdy floors all the way through and my roof doesn’t leak anymore,” McElrath said.
McElrath also asked for God’s blessing on the volunteers. “Just like God bottles up all of your tears that you cry, I believe he has all of your efforts in a bottle, too. Someday, He’s going to open it and pour out blessings to each and every one of you,” she said.
The ceremony also included several tributes to former Walker County Long Term Recovery construction coordinator Richard Ruble. Ruble died unexpectedly last month. Ruble, who championed McElrath’s project on numerous occasions, lived to see the house started before his death.
The program included this dedication: “We at Walker County Long Term Recovery would like to dedicate this house blessing to the memory of Richard Ruble. Richard worked tirelessly, without complaint and with all the passion in the world on every home he touched and had a heart of service for every client he met. Thank you Richard for your dedication, your example and your willingness to serve.”
Kay Robnett, a friend of McElrath’s, said of Ruble, “Because of his talent and leadership, many now have a place to call home. Richard now lives in a house not made with hands, whose builder and maker is God above.”