PHOTOS BY Devin Joubert (event pictures), Laura Cramer (house pics with winner) and J. Alan Paul Photography (house pictures)
On the day before Halloween, the teams at Designer Homes and Design & Living magazine gathered together at the Ramada Plaza & Suites for one extraordinary day. Ready to give away the $500,000 home as part of the Designer Homes’ “Giveaway of a Lifetime” event, one thousand finalists were invited to attend this extraordinary event. Out of those one thousand people, host Paul Bougie narrowed it down to just 30 individuals. After 28 failed attempts to turn the key and win the house, one Fargo resident stepped up to the door and slowly turned a key that would change her life forever.
The payday loans now at the Ramada was brimming with people full of anticipation and sheer excitement. Over the course of two hours, thousands of dollars in gift cards were given away along with a beautiful, custom pool table. But what everyone was waiting for was the drawing of 30 names, offering a chance to pick a key and try their hand at the looming door located on stage. A few lucky kids in attendance even got to draw some of the finalists’ names.
After the drawing, the crowd watched anxiously as 30 nervous people approached the door ready to try their key. After every failed attempt, the finalists exited the stage, leaving visibly shaken by their near win.
A special guest appearance was made by the Gilbertson family. Michele Gilbertson had won the first home given away by Designer Homes just four years ago.
To keep the crowd entertained, local band Lars and Joe Pony Show played on stage in between the drawings.
Marking the 29th key, Angela Skaff had watched 28 people attempt to open the door but to no avail. As the crowd of 1,000 went silent, she slowly turned the key, opening the door to a roaring applause. Standing in awe on the other side of the door, Skaff was without words and beyond grateful.
Within minutes of arriving at the home, Skaff was greeted by hugs, tears and laughter from church friends who didn’t hold back telling us how deserving Skaff was of this prize. Here are just a few of the things that her friends had to say: “She deserves this, she’s a hard worker, she’s educated. Every time she’s doing anything at her job, she goes over and beyond.” “She’s a giver, a supporter. She helps anyone that’s in need of help. She’s been there for me and my family.” “About six years ago, she came from Sioux Falls, South Dakota and didn’t have anywhere to go. She ended up living with me in my home. So she went from not having a home, basically homeless. I remember her saying that she even had to shower at the gym. It’s taken steps, but she’s come a long way.”
ABOUT THE WINNER
Skaff, an NDSU alumna, currently lives in West Fargo and is originally from Sioux Falls, South Dakota. She now works at NDSU and is an entrepreneur on the side. Skaff is single with no kids and attended the giveaway event with a close friend.
What field do you work in?
“I currently work for the Department of Public Health in the College of Health Professions at NDSU. As an entrepreneur, I am part owner and lead designer for Integrity Studios, a Media and IT consulting company and I own Ashé Ara, my start-up clothing design line.”
How does it feel to win a house?
“It feels amazing, a real gift from God. This home is opening me to a life of seeing my dreams become a living reality where I can pursue all my passions and purposes. You just have no idea how this has forever changed my life, my legacy, my everything and I just am still in shock. God is good!”
How many times did you register?
“Actually, I got the email after the first time I registered. Then I registered online and went to the house later. I only went to the house once, and I wasn’t sure I wanted to. I didn’t want to get overly excited about it.”
What brought you to Fargo?
“I went to school at NDSU and I found a church here, and that’s why I’m here. I go to Latter Rain Ministries.”
We heard you speak of a significance of the number 29, can you explain?
“So, I was number 29 to try the key and Jeremiah 29:11 is the scripture that talks about, ‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ and that God has a plan for hope not to harm you. It’s been a verse since I’ve been saved that stuck with me, so it’s just significant.”
Who were the first people you called after you won?
“My sister who was with my parents, my pastor and my apostle.”
ABOUT THE GIVEAWAY PROCESS
To find out what it’s like after a major home giveaway, we asked president of Designer Homes Robert Leslie to give us the low down on how this process works.
What are the winner’s options?
Leslie: “We set the closing goal within seven days. So, that gives the winner time to contact their accountant or whoever does their taxes to find out the best way to do it so they’re in the best position of how we convey the title to them. It gets conveyed free and clear, and there’s no cost for the closing either, just so that it’s in the best interest of the winner. So, the closing cost is covered by us.
“We have all of the title work prepared, so as soon as she is ready, we sign it over. It’s as simple as that. We just want to make sure that it’s being done the way that she wants it done. Taxes are due in March, so if she decided to keep it, she would take a mortgage for what the tax amount would be, which is usually 30 percent. Basically, she would be able to take a mortgage out for the percent owed and own a half a million dollar home for the mortgage of a $150- $180,000 home. If she chose to sell, she’d have an estimated $300-$350,000 in the bank after taxes were paid. The winner makes that choice and whatever’s best for them, we just help them.”
What did Angela decide to do with the home?
Leslie: “She’s keeping it and we are so happy for her. She felt a connection with the house immediately. She had only gone to the house once, so I feel there’s some sort of destiny there; as if God is telling her what to do. Even if she decides to sell it in a year or two, we have a market that’s a win-win market that doesn’t fluctuate a lot. It’s a fair market that the http://dedebt.com/payday-loan-consolidation/ gives her the comfort level to stay there. She can live there now and decide to sell later and be able to profit from the sale and use that money towards something else in her life, should she choose.”
Have you done the closing yet?
Leslie: “We had the closing and her parents were there, her pastor, some good friends, it was a really emotional time. Our Designer Homes team feels like we’ve really adopted a new family member. It’s been an amazing experience getting to know her, she is a really great and deserving person. She’s done so much for other people. The first time we did the giveaway four years ago, I prayed that someone would win that was deserving. It was clear that God’s hand was on it when Michele Gilbertson won the house four years ago. This time, I wasn’t as worried, God’s hand was so tight on this that we just knew that he would provide another deserving person. Once again, it couldn’t have gone to a better person.”
What does it feel like giving away a second home?
Leslie: “It’s just amazing. I think everybody felt the energy in that room, whether they won or they didn’t. It’s pretty amazing just to be a part of that experience and see it happen. Now we can start talking about the next one and saving up for the next four years to do it all over again.”
THE WINNER’S PERSPECTIVE: AFTER THE GIVEAWAY
“Since the giveaway, I have been launched into a new level with my walk with God and adulthood,” said Skaff. “I have been learning so much as a first-time home owner, it’s just been overwhelming and my patience have been tried and stretched in the process. This house, it’s so much more than a house, more than a dollar amount and all the extravagant details so meticulously placed in the home. It’s connected me to new people, brought about an increase in faith and encouragement among my loved ones, just for starters. It’s simply been a miracle of God and a testament to His love for His children to go from not having a roof of my own over my head at a few points in my life, to my apartment and now to a home, and not just any kind of home.
“It came out of one effortless online registration from a post in my newsfeed on Facebook and out of all that registered, it was left to me, the 29th individual in line that day. The scripture, Jeremiah 29:11 is why I am keeping the house in a nutshell. This instantaneous gift, miracle, blessing, however you look at it, is nothing I was looking for and everything I have been looking for. This house puts me in a new realm of the abundant life and it has unlocked the very things I have petitioned and laid before the Lord to come forward.”