Everything and more: The first of two Pay It Forward projects revealed Friday

Mar. 17—It was busy in the home of Cassie Konken early Friday evening.

People were packed into the small one and a half story home, but the warmth within was the perfect backdrop as Konken saw her home for the first time since leaving it in the hands of Pay It Forward for a week.

"It doesn't feel real," Konken said after Friday's reveal, the first of two in this the 10th year of Pay It Forward.

With new wood floors, redressed bedrooms, new carpet upstairs, a new water heater in the basement and, of course, a newly remodeled bathroom there was a breath of fresh renewal to the home, left to Konken by her mother five years ago when she passed away from cancer.

The bathroom was in especially poor shape, requiring a pair of pliers to turn the water on and off. There were other issues that popped up as construction flowed through the week.

"I was just excited to know that my bathroom had been done," Konken said, who added that the full force of what has happened hadn't sunk in yet. "I feel like it won't hit me until later."

Leah Worke, who nominated Konken for this year's project, said the final result was all that Konken deserves, reflecting the type of home that she can truly raise her children — Kenna, Scarlet, Liam, Cassie and Caleb — in without worry.

"It's beautiful. It feels safe, it feels homey. It's just wonderful," Worke said. "I couldn't be happier with how it turned out."

"Cassie works really hard," she continued. "She does everything she can to provide for her children and she never complains. She's not one that quickly asks for help. To see her in this house now, a home that was left to her by her mom, I just know it means a lot."

This is the first of two projects this year for Pay It Forward, a departure from just the single projects of the past. Gina Grundmeier said that despite volunteers needing to split time between the two homes, everything has gone fairly well.

"We ran into some extra bathroom issues with water damage, had to redo the floors — things that that aren't quite expected," she said, but adding that it's all gone smoothly. "Surprisingly for doing two at one time."

As with many of the projects in the years prior, those first few moments that Konken was in the house brought on plenty of emotion.

"A lot of tears and high emotion," Grundmeier said. "It was more than she expected, which is what we're going for."

As the evening settled down a bit, Konken had a moment to reflect on the day and the week prior. She hopes that one day she can take part in something similar.

"It's just incredible," she said. "It's nice to know that there are still good people out there. I feel like I want to do stuff like this too, that I can jump in and volunteer and help out too. It's almost like a dream come to."

And trying to add her own spark, Konken said that she hopes her children take something away from this as well.

"Even if they could come and help and start volunteering. I want to teach them to be good people too and do nice things."

The next open house will be for Joel Henricks on Wednesday.