Wind, Rain Damage Skagit Habitat for Humanity Store
by Kera Wanielista
Last weekend's high winds and heavy rains created the perfect storm at the Skagit Habitat for Humanity store in Mount Vernon, causing thousands of dollars worth of damage and lost merchandise.
About a third of the southwest portion of the roof was ripped off Friday night, allowing the rain to seep in and damage much of the upstairs offices, said Skagit Habitat for Humanity board member Dave Groves.
"Our store manager opened the door and discovered we had a problem," Groves said. Water from the upper floor had leaked down to the bottom floor, damaging some of the furniture available for purchase to benefit Habitat, said store manager Jason Harrison. Fortunately, Harrison said, there wasn't too much damage to the merchandise. The majority of the damage was in the offices, requiring ceiling tiles and drywall to be removed.
"Our offices at this point are ripped down to studs," said Resource Development Coordinator Kimberly Bell. "We walked in, and it was raining outside and inside."
Harrison said they expect to have the expansion area of the lower store opened on Saturday. He said there is no date for when they will have the offices restored and the rest of the store open. In the meantime, customers can still drop off donations.
"Donations are going to be real important to help replenish what we lost," Groves said. A complete damage estimate isn't known yet, but Teresa Pugh, executive director of Skagit Habitat for Humanity, estimates it will be at least $25,000.
Pugh said the damage would not deter the organization from proceeding with its upcoming groundbreaking ceremonies at 2 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 26, at the Channel Cove property in La Conner. She also said the store will probably host a "raise the roof" sale when the store is ready to reopen in hope of recouping lost sales.
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Habitat for Humanity Expands Service with Home Repair Program
Skagit Habitat for Humanity has long been known as an organization whose volunteers build houses for first-time homeowners. On the side, they've often dedicated time also to help people with home repairs when financial or physical limitations prevent them from taking care of those needs themselves.
Dave Groves, resource coordinator with Habitat, said what the nonprofit has come to realize is there is more need for that type of help than they realized. And so Habitat Helpers, a home repair program, was created to match the needs of homeowners with volunteers from businesses, churches and service clubs.
Shawn Steffens serves as chair of Habitat Helpers and Wayne Brusseau is project manager.
The program's goal is "to keep homes alive by repairing damage and restoring livability." Homeowners are selected for the program based on income, need and willingness to partner. Habitat workers make visits to the homes to determine what materials and skills will be needed. The work is done by volunteers, and with donated materials when possible. Homeowners, if they are able, are asked to provide sweat equity hours and a financial contribution through no-interest loans for the projects' costs. Their payments go on to help others in need.
Habitat Helpers got a boost recently with $25,000 from the city through the Community Development Block Grant, which is funded through the federal government.
"Our goal is to use all volunteers," said Habitat Executive Director Teresa Pugh. "And to only spend the money on materials." However, funds can go to professional labor if a project is too big for volunteers.
So far, six projects throughout Skagit County have been done through Habitat Helpers since it was created in September 2012, Pugh said. Most recipients of the help have been low-income families, seniors, disabled people and some veterans. Projects typically involve one-day's worth of work and have involved volunteers from U.S. Bank, Skagit Publishing, Citipoint Church and elsewhere.
The Citipoint Church volunteers helped an elderly woman in Anacortes with various repairs about two weeks ago. The woman's pastor got wind of the project and put a call out to more volunteers from their church, First Assembly of God in Anacortes. Because of that the work they were able to do was doubled, Pugh said. Rotted parts of a wheelchair ramp and deck were replaced and leaks in the roof fixed. They also upgraded the bathroom, making it more handicap accessible, which is something they always try to do, she said. A tree was trimmed and other landscaping was done as well.
Habitat Helpers To apply for help with home repairs through Habitat Helpers, call (360) 428-9402 and an application will be mailed to you. Or drop by the Skagit Habitat for Humanity store at 1022 Riverside Drive for an application. Hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Donations are only accepted during business hours before 5:30 p.m. More information and applications are available online at www.skagithabitat.com.
To donate materials and/or volunteer time in areas such as painting, landscaping, weatherization, minor repair services, or decking and fencing repairs, call (360) 420-3649.
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Stable housing for Christmas
We all know the role a stable plays in the Christmas story, but not everyone knows the role “stable” plays when talking about a home.
I’m convinced that when a person has secured safe, decent, affordable housing, the rest of his or her life can fall into place. I believe this is especially true for children.
We talked to some children of Skagit Habitat for Humanity homeowners about the first Christmas they spent in their very own home — their stable housing.
Aaliyah from Mount Vernon has been in her home for seven years, and she still remembers the purple tree with white and silver ornaments her grandparents gave her just for her room.
“It lit up the room so much,” Aaliyah said. “It made me happy to be able to see the room I call my own.”
Aaliyah also remembers the lights they put up outside sparked a friendly competition with the neighbors — but her house was always the “best and brightest.” When her family went up on the hill near Hillcrest Park, she said they could see their house stand out among the others.
In Sedro-Woolley, brothers Edgar and Jose remember the fun they had getting everyone together for a big dinner. They ate, played games, and had a chance to show others their home. They also decorated their home for the first time, and continue to do so each year.
Kindred, also in Sedro-Woolley, said his family started a new tradition in their home that first year by having a family Christmas brunch.
What JJ and Gabi in Mount Vernon remember best about their first Christmas is “just relaxing on the couch in the morning in our PJs.” That was when “… I was with my mom and sister in a nice warm house,” JJ said.
A common memory among the kids was the sense of security and warmth in their own home. Family, presents, lights and food were somehow extra special that first Christmas.
Two Habitat families are just days away from celebrating their first Christmas in their new homes in La Conner.
Liliana and David talked about decorating their new home, making fancy cookies for Santa, and watching with anticipation the coming of Christmas Eve.
What will make their first Christmas special is “… knowing that my family will be super happy and together,” David said.
Gerardo and sister Brianna in La Conner remember “… the green pine in front full of white snow all over.” They said they were so excited to put out their first Christmas lights and thought the result looked like a “… real Christmas in a real home … like in the movies.”
All of us who work for SHFH’s mission remember in our own lives how special Christmas can be with family safe and secure. We can only imagine how good it feels to have stable housing after years of renting or borrowing space to raise a family.
New partner families are being selected for upcoming homes, and in the next couple years those families also will enjoy happy holidays with the security of home ownership in Skagit County.
From everyone at Skagit Habitat for Humanity, we wish all of you a Merry Christmas and a safe, healthy and prosperous New Year.
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Habitat Concert Support Appreciated
Thank you to Salem Lutheran Church for hosting the 18th annual Skagit Habitat for Humanity Christmas Concert on December 8 in Mount Vernon. The event raised $8,000 to continue our mission of building affordable homes in Skagit County for deserving low-income families.
Our thanks extend to Dave Cross for producing the concert and to Randy Pratt, Jim Bowers and Candy Johnson from the church as sound technician, cleaning and event coordinatior, respectively.
The concert was made possible by the financial assistance of our sponsors: Peoples Bank, Thrivent Financial - Shawn Steffens, John L. Scott Real Estate - Anacortes/Skagit, La Conner Rotary Club, See Eye Care, Swinomish Casino, Soroptimist International of Anacortes, Padgett & Padgett, Hexcel Corp. and Blade Chevrolet.
Our gratitude also goes to the Skagit Habitat for Humanity Fundraising Committee, especially Dawn New for chairing the event, and to community volunteers who helped prepare our mailings, along with decorating on concert day.
It wouldn't be a concert without performers: Knut Bell, Jennifer Ceresa, Randy Pratt, Kathy Corrion with Laura Brown, and Dallas Hendrickson, Emma Gates and John Gates, Stephanie Bethea, Jill Estvold, Gabrielle Kamm, Claire Dishong and Reese Miller.
Thank you for all you do!
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Progress on our current home!
We are currently working on a single-family home in La Conner for the Baer Family!
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The Skagit Habitat for Humanity Store is open for business Tuesday through Saturday from 10 am to 6 pm, and donations are only accepted during business hours before 5:30 PM. The Store address is 1022 Riverside Drive in Mount Vernon. Click on the link below to find the location of the store.