Habitat for Humanity builds first local home
All it took was a look out her living-room window Saturday morning for Marti Goulding to realize she was the luckiest resident of the Roaring Fork Valley.
The view was possible only after about 18 volunteers from Habitat for Humanity undertook a good old-fashioned wall-raising at what will soon be the the home of Goulding and her four children.
The family was selected from 30 applicants to be the owners of Habitat’s first project in the valley. The 1,130-square-foot, ranch-style home is being constructed adjacent to Happy Day Ranch on Emma Road. One-half acre was donated for the project by Ginny Parker.
Habitat’s crew of volunteers gave out a whoop when the framing of the first wall was raised Saturday morning. The east-facing view Goulding could only imagine since May finally became reality.
“It’s just the most amazing thing that’s happened in my life,” she said. “Certainly if we didn’t get this house we wouldn’t be in the Roaring Fork Valley now.”
Goulding and her family have been living in West Glenwood Springs. When she became a single parent, her rent was more than her salary. She jumped at the chance for home ownership through Habitat for Humanity’s local chapter. The nonprofit organization provides housing around the world for families in need.
Goulding’s family had to meet income and asset criteria. She is acquiring the house through sweat equity during construction and must repay an interest-free, $90,000 loan.
She was swinging a hammer and lugging wood just like the volunteers who showed up for the first public work day on the project. The effort attracted Jan Senne of Carbondale, who recently joined Habitat’s local board of directors.
“It’s just an extremely important thing for us to do in our communities,” said Senne.
The former resident of Friday Harbor, Wash., has been involved in construction of nine homes through other programs similar to Habitat.
“I didn’t even know how to pound nails when I first started,” Senne said. Now she makes furniture and owns an impressive array of tools.
The Habitat project inspired volunteer Robin Farley of Blue Lake to get involved as a sort of “payback.” Her brother was the recipient of a Habitat for Humanity home in western New York about three years ago. She said she was unable to go back and help its construction, but knows it really helped her family out.
Once she learned of the local Habitat project, she felt it was only right to chip in.
Construction supervisor Dean Filiss said he found it rewarding to direct people so eager to contribute their time. The volunteers were a mixture of construction vets and rank beginners.
Questions were fired at Filiss at the rate of bullets from a machine gun. He remained composed and patient throughout, emphasizing education rather than speed.
“Efficiency is our last priority,” he said.
As the owner of Divide Creek Builders in Silt, he had been contributing his time to Habitat for Humanity in Grand Junction. The need is so great in the Roaring Fork Valley that he gladly started helping the local chapter as a board member and supervisor.
He credited numerous suppliers of building materials for donating or providing low-cost supplies for the project.
“We’re building a house for someone, but we’re really building a community,” said Filiss.
That sense of community is what attracted volunteer Richard Compton to the house-raising. He manned the saw that kept the crews stocked with studs.
“It’s a good little Christmas service project,” said Compton, a resident of Missouri Heights. “It’s just fun to get out with a bunch of people and do a house-raising.”
The crew was fed turkey, mashed potatoes and all the trimmings by the Methodist Church in Basalt.
Local Habitat chapter president Tim Whitsitt said he was pleased with the volunteer turnout. He’s organizing special work days where businesses around the valley supply a handful of volunteers to help with construction.
David Parker was out lending a hand even though his family had already donated the land. His mother, Ginny Parker, easily could have sold the sunny lot with great views and rural setting for a handsome profit, but she wanted to help with housing for a less fortunate family instead.
“My mom’s really a great person,” David Parker said. “She gets all the credit.”
The land donation was done in the memory of Lester Jones, David’s grandpa, who died about five years ago. He had a 270-acre ranch that’s remained mostly in the family’s hands.
Approval for the Habitat home went through Pitkin County government review and permit process. Parker noted there was no opposition from the Emma neighbors to the affordable housing project.
“We appreciate the support from neighbors,” he said. “Sometimes there’s a bit of NIMBYism.”
Goulding, who works in administration at Basalt High School, said she hopes to move her family into the house over spring break in March. Her kids – Jessica, 14; Victoria, 12; Patrick, 10; and Hannah, 8 – will have llamas as neighbors to the west, horses to the south and cows across Emma Road to the north.
“I think it’s special to have a special place being built for us,” said Victoria.
Senne said Habitat’s goal is to keep providing a special place for other needy families of the valley.
“We’re looking for land right now,” she said. “We would really like to build hundreds of homes.”
Editor’s note: Another volunteer work day is scheduled Monday, Jan. 1, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Volunteers can work all or part of the day. Lunch will be provided, so call 963-8555 or 963-6666 in advance.
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