QUINCY -- Admittedly, Brittney Welch was grateful.
Very, very grateful.
As she relayed her story, her eyes danced with a unique kind of joy only a mother can appreciate.
And at times, her emotion-filled voice would tremble in thankfulness.
All of this was fittingly punctuated by Welch's breathtaking smile on a crisp, but sunny Sunday afternoon near the intersection of Sixth and Cherry streets.
Brittney, a 32-year-old Air Force veteran, is the latest recipient of one of the "tiny homes" provided by the local 2x4s for Hope outreach ministry that assists veterans in need.
"This is a like a lifetime of Christmases ... in one day," said Welch, who with her 12-year-old daughter, Haleigh, will occupy the 575-square-foot house built by more than 100 volunteers on Saturday and Sunday.
Welch, a Quincy High graduate, served in Air Force security forces in Europe and the Middle East until health problems ultimately led to a medical discharge more than a decade ago.
Since then, Welch has experienced more medical issues while trying to make ends meet.
"I was struggling even to put food on the table," she said.
That was then, and this is now -- and "now" is a much better life for Welch and her daughter. She works full time for a local oral surgeon, and piece by piece her life is coming back together. The new home is a godsend, she says.
"I was actually in the hospital when I found out about (2x4s for Hope)," Welch said.
Recipients of a tiny home must meet certain requirements and be an active participant in the process, which includes a mentoring program.
Welch said from the time she reached out to 2x4s for Hope until she was accepted for a home covered about five months.
Veterans who are selected for a tiny home move into a fully furnished site and sign a 10-year contract. One of the requirements is they must pay all taxes connected with the home.
Welch's tiny home is the third of five planned for the Sixth and Cherry block.
Gerilynn Morrison, a member of the board of directors for 2x4s for Hope, said each home carries about a $34,000 cost. All labor is donated. Many of the products required for the home are either donated or acquired at a reduced cost.
Local contractor Mark Lawrence and his wife, Chris, founded 2x4s for Hope in May 2015. This weekend has been a perfect example of the community's support for the concept -- and local veterans.
"The response has been phenomenal," Chris Lawrence said. "There are volunteers here from all over, including as far away as Wisconsin." Lawrence said Big O's Eats and Treats, a relatively new culinary business in Canton, Mo., was on hand Sunday supplying food. On Saturday, representatives from the Payson Seymour Elementary School did the same.
"It's always exciting to see who shows up," Lawrence said.
Welch is looking forward to paying her good fortune forward.
"My ultimate goal is to be debt free and help others (who are in a situation that mirrors her own previous difficulties)," she said.
The first tiny home in Quincy was built in September 2018, the second in April. In July, the first tiny home was built in Mount Sterling.
Lawrence said two more tiny homes are scheduled in the spring of 2020, one each in Quincy and Mount Sterling.
Those interested in donating time and/or funding to 2x4s for Hope should call Lawrence at 217-617-8500. More information is available at 2x4forhope.org.