By Jean Ruzicka

An “exciting challenge” is being extended to the Park Rapids community.

Josh and Tara Rychnovsky, both having grown up in Park Rapids, along with their three young children “are looking for a place to call home.”

The family has moved six times in six years from rental home to rental home and “want stability” for their children.

A family member told them of the Lakes Area Habitat for Humanity, a nonprofit, Christian housing organization that works in partnership with people in need to build and renovate decent, affordable housing.

The Rychnovskys placed a call to the Lakes Area Habitat for Humanity office in Brainerd.

Through Habitat for Humanity’s communications with the R.D. Offutt Foundation, a matching gift of $22,000 has been offered for the construction of the house, to be located at 208 Grove Ave. South in Park Rapids.

In addition, 27 Lamb Weston-RDO Frozen employees have committed to volunteering on the project.

“Time is of the essence,” said Kevin Pelkey, executive director of Lakes Area Habitat for Humanity. “Ideally, we’d like to start by the end of April. It’s an opportune time for the RDO employees because of the cycle of their business.

“But we need to meet the challenge,” he said of raising matching funds.

“Matching” refers to monetary and materials donations, hosting fundraisers, as well as in-kind gifting from tradesmen, such as plumbers and electricians.

“This is an opportunity to help an American hero, someone who’s fought for our country,” Melissa Kaufenberg, director of development for Lakes Area Habitat for Humanity, said of the Iraq War veteran.

Rychnovsky served two tours before being medically discharged in 2013.

The home will be built on a lot donated by Citizens National Bank. The previous home, which was in foreclosure, was demolished.

A new chapter will soon unfold on the lot with a river view.

“Having a home means our kids will have a permanent, secure and safe place to live,” Tara Rychnovsky said. “It means we will no longer have to rent places that have things that don’t work, improper ventilation and mold. It means our kids will have a yard to play in. It means we will be a family with a place to call home.

“It’s a dream come true.”

“I’m so excited about this project,” Kaufenberg said. Veterans are “underpaid and under-appreciated. This is a great opportunity to put words of thanks into action.”

The Rychnovskys, who have a housecleaning business, will be required to put a minimum of 300 “sweat equity” hours into the project.

They will carry a no-profit, no-interest mortgage. Their estimated monthly payment will be $350, which includes interest and property taxes.

For more information on volunteering, contact volunteer coordinator Julie Moulton at 218-828-8517 or go online to register at www.lakesareahabi

Donations may be sent to Lakes Area Habitat for Humanity at PO Box 234, Brainerd, MN 56401, with “for Park Rapids-built home” indicated on the check. Donations may also be made online.