Habitat for Humanity dedicated new homes in downtown Dover Dec. 19.

The holidays came early for two families who received a life-changing gift: keys to their new homes.

The Ripoll and Tibbitt families joined Central Delaware Habitat for Humanity, community members and city officials Dec. 19 to dedicate neighboring houses on South Governors Avenue in downtown Dover.

“To be able to be here and to have dreams for our future is amazing,” homeowner June Ripoll said. “Before we joined Habitat, I didn’t have dreams for the future. I didn’t know what the future held. Now, I at least have a start to know where it is and where I can go with it.”

June and Joshua Ripoll married in 2003 and have lived in Delaware with their three children for most of their lives.

Sandra Tibbitt has three children and five grandchildren who were more than eager to explore all the nooks and crannies of her new home.

Central Delaware Habitat for Humanity works with families in Kent County and partners with nonprofit NCALL to build affordable housing and replace old, dilapidated buildings.

Mayor Robin Christiansen and Councilman Fred A. Neil thanked Habitat for their positive effect on Dover.

“The people who are coming into these homes have a stake,” Neil said. “They’re the most important citizens we have because they care.”

Tibbitt said she is excited to be a part of the change happening in Dover.

“Everybody’s like ‘It’s so scary living in that area,’ but somebody has to take the change. I feel privileged to be able to be a part of that,” she said.

Several organizations and companies, such as Bright Side Roofing and State Farm, have donated and volunteered for Habitat. Procter & Gamble donated a large gift basket of products to both families, and Habitat gave them outdoor security cameras.

“I really, really want to make an effort to thank the volunteers because they are amazing. They put so much time in to help everyone with their homes,” Tibbitt said.

The dedication ceremony completed almost a year of work for these families. Habitat’s Director of Homeowner Services Dani Santos works with the homeowners at each step, from application to closing. She met with law office Curley, Dodge, Funk & Street to settle both Dec. 19.