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'Rock the Block' making history while making a difference in Chilton community


Paula Koehler and her 14-year-old daughter Hailey, May 11, 2023. (WLUK/Lexi Schroeder)
Paula Koehler and her 14-year-old daughter Hailey, May 11, 2023. (WLUK/Lexi Schroeder)
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CHILTON (WLUK) -- A team of volunteers is making a difference while making history in the Chilton community. It's all part of Habitat for Humanity's three-day "Rock the Block" project.

This is the first time the Greater Fox Cities Area Habitat for Humanity has done a project like this in Chilton. It's also the first time the group is providing free home renovations.



Paula Koehler has known for a while that her Chilton home no longer met the needs of her 13-year-old daughter Hailey.

She and her daughter are one of the families benefiting from Habitat’s presence in Chilton.

"Hailey was born back in 2009," said Koehler. "At 28-weeks in utero, she had a stroke."

She says the journey since then has been tough.


"For the first couple of years, she did OK. She was like any newborn," said Koehler. "As she got older, we started noticing more things."

Because of Hailey's needs, Koehler is no longer able to work, as she needs to take care of her daughter full-time.

"As you can tell, she's wheelchair bound," said Koehler. "She has CP and a couple other diagnoses."

This makes it hard for Hailey to maneuver around normal places.

"I did try looking at homes around the area, and there was always something that wouldn't work for Hailey," said Koehler. "The doorways were too small, the bathrooms she wouldn't even have been able to get into."

That's when Koehler reached out to the Greater Fox Cities Area Habitat for Humanity for help.

"This a wonderful opportunity for their family and a wonderful opportunity for us and the volunteers we work with to be able to provide a homeownership opportunity for this family," said John Weyenberg, president/CEO of the Greater Fox Cities Area Habitat for Humanity.


Koehler is a 2023 graduate of Habitat’s Homebuyer program. This means she has gone through the classes at Habitat to learn how to care for her home and has been helping Habitat volunteers with the building of her home.

But "Rock the Block" is a different program that works on supporting other residential and community-based projects providing affordable repairs.

Historically, the event renovated the exteriors of homes with a zero-interest loan that homeowners paid back once the home was sold.

But for the first time ever, home improvements and exterior renovations of up to $10,000 per project will be provided at no cost.

"It could be repairs, a new roof, new windows, new siding, fixing porches -- but, also, we're going inside the home and fixing any health and safety issues that exist inside the home," said Weyenberg.

Weyenberg says it's due to extreme generosity from various community donors, like life-long resident Jerry Mallmann, who grew up on the city's northeast side where Hailey's home is being built.

"When I saw these very streets that I rode my bike on 55 years ago, it just brought back a lot of memories," said Mallman. "So, it made me realize how important neighborhoods are and how important it is, as a kid, to grow up in an area that's safe."

Something that Koehler wants for her daughter.

"This is a good community to be in -- that's why I wanted to stay here," said Koehler.


Some of the special amenities in Hailey's new house include an open layout, wider doorways, a bigger bathtub and a ceiling lift.

The house is expected to be complete sometime this August.

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