Dory family settles in at Basalt after tough times |

Dory family settles in at Basalt after tough times

Scott Condon
The Aspen Times
Assaf Dory stands outside his new home in Basalt on Thursday. His family will move in Monday to a house constructed by Habitat For Humanity Roaring Fork Valley.
Scott Condon/The Aspen Times |


What: House dedication ceremony

Where: 213 Homestead Drive, Basalt

When: Sunday 1 to 3 p.m.

Why: Celebration of completion of Habitat house

Assaf Dory thinks he might finally be able shake the sense of dread that hits him when December rolls around.

Dory shattered his leg Dec. 15, 2001, while on active duty at the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office in Largo, Florida. He was chasing a kid who was shooting at cars. He scaled an 11-foot-high fence and broke his leg while jumping down.

Dory, a fit guy who had earlier served in the Israeli military, made it back to the department after four surgeries and intensive physical therapy. But two years after he returned to the Sheriff’s Office, his right leg was broken again, and again it happened in December.

This time, he couldn’t battle back. His leg was eventually amputated, and more had to be removed later because of complications. The medical expenses and Assaf’s inability to work put the Dory family into a tailspin. They departed Florida for the Northwest in 2011 and stopped by Aspen to visit friends. One thing led to another, and they ended up staying in the Roaring Fork Valley, where nice people and the sense of community impressed them.

Assaf and his wife, Sigal Weinfield-Dory, were persuaded to apply for a house planned in Basalt by Habitat For Humanity. A committee selected them, and work got underway in winter 2014. The house on Homestead Drive will be dedicated Sunday in a public ceremony expected to be well-attended by volunteers, sponsors and donors.

Dory expects the event to be significant enough to offset the bad memories of December.

“Finally we’re able to set roots again,” he said.

Specially crafted house

The Dorys 1,575-square-foot house is two stories with three bedrooms and 21/2 bathrooms. But the numbers don’t tell the story. Early in the process, the Dorys sat down with Habitat officials and the architect on the project, Mary Holley, and discussed Assaf’s special requirements from using a wheelchair and crutches. They also discussed design features they would need as they age.

“We sat down with Mary and said, ‘This is where I want to die when I’m 90,’” Assaf said. Holley delivered with alterations from the garage to the second-floor master bed and bath.

Part of the garage is extra wide so that Dory can more easily maneuver when entering and exiting vehicles in a wheelchair. There are no steps from the garage into the living room-dining room area and kitchen. The steps leading to the second floor are wider and not as high as those on a standard staircase so that he can more easily negotiate them while on crutches. There is also a wheelchair hoist.

The master bathroom has a walk-in shower that can accommodate a chair. The floor is textured so a person can avoid slips and falls. The counters are lower to accommodate Assaf when using his wheelchair.

All floors are hardwood. No carpets will impinge on Assaf’s travels.

Large deciduous trees surround the exterior of the bedroom of their 6-year-old daughter, Mechel. She loves it, Assaf said, because she says she’s living in a tree house. The bedroom of Raam, their 17-year-old son, has a pitched ceiling to accommodate a bunk bed with a futon beneath.

Scott Gilbert, president of the local chapter of Habitat, found the funding for the features needed for Assaf and his family.

“I can honestly say it’s Scott’s energy and drive” that helped the house turn out so well, Dory said. Rick Farr, site supervisor, made sure the vision was carried out in construction.

Almost didn’t apply

The Dorys are proud people, so they almost didn’t apply to Habitat. Assaf was certain they wouldn’t be selected, and he didn’t like asking for help. He’s glad he didn’t let pride overtake common sense.

They put in sweat equity. They will pay a mortgage adjusted for their household income. They will have all the regular responsibilities of homeowners.

“They really hit it right. It’s a hand up, not a handout,” Dory said.

Gilbert said Habitat recipients are required to put in 250 hours per adult. Assaf doubled that amount. He manned the Habitat booth throughout the summer at the Basalt Sunday Market. He will continue helping next summer and throughout the year at Habitat events, sort of becoming a face of the local chapter — “a very ugly face,” he quipped.

Gilbert said the home-dedication ceremonies are always the most rewarding day for Habitat officials. The Dory house is the first within Basalt town limits, though another is in Emma, and the 20th built by Habitat for Humanity Roaring Fork Valley. Sunday’s ceremony is from 1 to 3 p.m.

The Dory family will move into their new home Monday from the small, 1880s cabin they are renting in Carbondale. It’s an emotional time for them.

There were 3,200 volunteer hours dedicated to the project, according to Amy French, volunteer coordinator and family services director for Habitat for Humanity Roaring Fork Valley. Fifteen groups ranging in size from six to 12 people helped out, as did 15 individuals. One person put in time over 40 days.

“There’s so much love and care that went into it,” Dory said. “It’s been an amazing process.”