Progress on Leeside Drive

clearing-at-leeside-croppedWe’re making real progress out in Birch Bay, thanks largely to the generosity of our supporters. On Monday, Mike Peetoom – owner and operator of Mike Peetoom Construction LLC – brought one of his earth movers out to the site and got to work. He scraped grass and topsoil and dug the trenches for the foundation. A lifelong Whatcom County resident, Mike was happy to be able to help. “I’m a dirt guy,” he said, grinning. “If you want me to swing a hammer, I’m worthless.”

You Don’t Have to Swing a Hammer to Help Build a House

mike-roberts-john-paradis-john-moon-2Like Mike, John Paradis of Umpqua Bank, supports Habitat generously. He served on our Board of Directors for 10 years and now serves as the Co-Chair of our Homebuyer Selection Committee. “I believe in what Habitat’s doing,” he says. “I’m all about affordable housing. And we’ve got some really great [homebuyers] we’ve been able to work with.” Today he presented us with a $4000 check from the Umpqua Bank Charitable Foundation for the Leeside project. Women Build and Youth United Build teams will soon begin constructing the Ortiz-Mendoza home with the family.

Celebrate Progress with Us

Join us on Sunday, October 30th at the Habitat Store from 2 to 4pm for a Permit Party to celebrate the progress we’ve made so far. We’ll have plenty of cake and inspiration to fuel us for the next phase of the project … building a house!



Local Business Owners Illustrate That Giving Is Building

Sanford, Florida / 10 MBIn Whatcom County, 42% of residents earn less than the basic cost of living. The average wage here is not enough to afford a 2-bedroom apartment. These circumstances set the stage for families living in overcrowded, substandard conditions. At Habitat for Humanity in Whatcom County, we’re trying to do something about that. We work with qualifying families to build safe, decent, affordable homes and lives beyond the oppressive grip of poverty. But we can’t do it alone. And there are so many different ways to help us build.

When You Give, You Build

paul-and-linda-teaterPaul and Linda Teater, relative newcomers to Whatcom County, exemplify the neighborly spirit of our community. They’ve long been generous promoters of the welfare of others and their gifts to Habitat continue that tradition. Owners of the local Budget Blinds franchise, they outfitted both the Van Dyken and Gutierrez homes entirely in blinds at no charge. Additionally, they’re covering our office windows here at Habitat – again, at no charge. Money we don’t spend to cover our office windows goes towards building shelter. Money the Van Dyken and Gutierrez families don’t spend to cover their windows is freed up for health care, education, and basic needs. This is the impressive impact of the Teaters’ gifts.

What Will You Build?

With the Leeside project nearing the construction phase, 3 other new builds in the works, several repair projects, and Telegraph Townhomes just around the corner, we need more help than ever to continue building strength, stability, and self-reliance through shelter. Call (360) 715-9170 and help us build today!

Work Begins in Blaine

work-party-at-leeside-10-8-16It took nearly 4 years of persistent effort, but at the end of last month we finally received a permit to begin building on the Leeside Drive lot we acquired back in 2012. We celebrated Habitat style … by rolling up our sleeves and getting to work!

Building House Number 37

This will be our 37th ground-up build in Whatcom County and we’re partnering with the Ortiz family to make it happen. The Ortiz’s joined our program in December of 2011 and have already put in over the minimum 500 hours of sweat equity before we’ve even broken ground!  They were out at the build site this past Saturday working alongside volunteers and staff to clean up the lot and remove debris.ortizs-with-volunteers-on-10-8-16

Build with the Ortiz’s

There are many more work parties to come and we’ll need all the hands we can get to help the Ortiz family finish their home in time for the 2017/2018 school year. Please contact Janet Straka at 360.715.9170 or email to sign up to volunteer with Habitat. This project is led by Women Build volunteers. Habitat welcomes volunteers of all genders.

Bob Matthes: Changing Lives with Habitat

img_0572A retired engineer, Bob Matthes has volunteered with Habitat for Humanity in Whatcom County since 2009. Prior to that, he volunteered with Habitat affiliates in Missouri and Iowa, primarily on the construction site. He enjoys working in the store here, though, because there’s plenty to do year-round, rain or shine. He loves the fact that the store is able to use those perfectly good materials that might otherwise end up in a landfill. He also appreciates the employment opportunities the store provides.

Something Tangible

Bob dedicates a good amount of his time to us – the equivalent of a part-time job – and has done so for many years. When we asked him, “Why Habitat?” he had this to say:

bob-matthes“I’ve always thought of Habitat as a worthy cause and something we volunteers can be very proud of. There’s something tangible we’re producing. There’s something to celebrate several times a year.”

Safe, decent, affordable housing is indeed tangible … and definitely something to celebrate!

Changing Lives

Bob would like those considering volunteering with Habitat to know that there are plenty of opportunities beyond the build site and that, “This is really a chance to change people’s lives.” Thank you, Bob, for changing lives with us.

What Does Safe, Decent, and Affordable Look Like? See for Yourself!

2780-w-indiana-stThis Saturday and Sunday, October 1st and 2nd, we’re participating in the Building Industry Association of Whatcom County’s annual Showcase of Homes. If you’ve never seen a finished Habitat house, this is your chance. This home, located at 2780 West Indiana Street in Bellingham, was our second passive-inspired build and we’re excited to show it off!

What’s A Passive-Inspired Build?

passivehousecutawayEnergy efficient houses reduce poverty by helping to make long-term home ownership affordable. Think about it: how helpful is owning a house when you can’t afford to heat it? On the other hand, what if your home only cost $40 per month to heat? At Habitat we work to get as close to passive design standards as possible, which means we build super insulated homes with heat recovery ventilation (HRV) systems that keep air flow continually moving. A tightly insulated home that’s also well ventilated is a healthy, safe home that’s also extremely affordable to own and maintain.

See One for Yourself this Weekend

We’ll be at 2780 West Indiana Street from 11am to 4pm on both Saturday and Sunday to greet you, answer any questions you may have, and show off one of our finished builds. The homeowners are proud and happy to welcome you into their safe, decent, affordable home. Come on out!


Every Home Is A Strong Foundation

front-with-hfh-sign-croppedIt was a beautiful day out in Sumas on Sunday as we gathered to welcome the Gutierrez family home. Executive Director John Moon opened the celebration with a reminder of the ripple effect that occurs each time another family is housed – their mortgage payments (made to Habitat for Humanity in Whatcom County) create an income stream that helps make more homes possible for more families. In this way, the Gutierrez home is both a strong foundation for the family and a strong foundation on which we continue to build.

A Strong Foundation for One Family …

gutierrez-ribbon-cuttingEvery parent wants a better future for their family. Every child deserves to live in stability. As young Salvadore cut the ribbon on the home his family rehabilitated with Habitat, that better future and that stability came sharply into focus for all of us in attendance. It was a symbolic moment that embodied not just the work done to get to this point, but all of the work now possible beyond it. With a decent place to live and an affordable mortgage, the Gutierrez family can save more, invest in education, pursue opportunity, and have more financial stability.

… Is a Strong Foundation for Many Families

As we look ahead to more builds – including Telegraph Townhomes, the 24 home project slated for groundbreaking in 2017 – we do so from the vantage point of other, completed builds. Builds like this one, which will help to fund future projects. And the hand up multiplies, raising more people out of poverty and into stable, independent lives. Will you help to fortify this strong foundation by giving today?

Welcome Home, Gutierrez Family

On Friday, September 9th, the Gutierrez family’s home closed, becoming the 4th complete house rehabilitation we’ve performed. And what a change! Just look at a few before and after photos …







Remarkable! The Gutierrez family has put in hundreds of hours of work to make their dream of home ownership a reality and we feel privileged to have partnered with these dedicated folks.

Join Us for the Dedication

This Sunday, September 18th, we’ll meet at 211 Front Street in Sumas at 4PM for a home dedication ceremony. All those with well wishes for the Gutierrez family are welcome. A home dedication is a moving, celebratory time to congratulate the family as well as to thank the many volunteers and donors who have helped bring about a permanent housing solution to yet another struggling family. We’d love to see you there!

Habitat Happenings

img_0443Janet and Fred – our Volunteer Coordinator and our Resource Development Manager – had a lovely time visiting with the enthusiastic employees at WorldMark Blaine resort and WorldMark Birch Bay resort today. Resort staff is eager to volunteer as a group on some of our projects and we’re thrilled to have them! Is your company interested in having Janet and Fred out to present to your staff? Email us at or call 360.715.9170 to schedule a visit.

Costa Rica Q&A

Team Leader Sarah Bond-Yancey thumbnailWith recruitment for our Costa Rica build trip in full swing, we thought it’d be a good idea to hold an informational Q&A Session for those who are interested but have questions or concerns. Our highly experienced Trip Leader, Sarah Bond-Yancey, will be on hand to give you all the details you need. If you’re considering the Costa Rica trip, plan to attend this hour-long session on Thursday, September 8th from 6-7PM at the Community Food Co-op Bakery Café (405 E. Holly St. in Downtown Bellingham).

Work for Habitat

img_0441There are some rather large shoes to fill in our office, friends. Our dear friend and co-worker, Becca Bell, passed away and left a vacancy that will require a special person (or persons) to fill. Do you know a talented Office Manager/Bookkeeper who’s looking for a new professional home? Please pass our interest along. (See the job listing on Craigslist.)

Build Trip to Costa Rica

Day 2Our Costa Rica trip is all mapped out. We have firm dates, cost, and an itinerary. Now all we need is YOU! Check out the details on our Costa Rica 2017 page and consider attending our informational Q&A session with Team Leader Sarah Bond-Yancey. Sarah has extensive experience leading international build trips and looks forward to answering any questions you may have.

  • What: Costa Rica Q&A Session
  • When: September 8th, 6-7pm
  • Where: Community Food Co-op Bakery Café (see map)

Some good news to kick off recruiting …

The trip cost is lower than we originally thought it would be. On August 10th we told you $1900 plus airfare per person but we’re happy to be able to amend that number to $1725 plus airfare per person. An auspicious start? We think so!

Find this event on Facebook. We hope to see you there!

Greetings, Friends

Today we received the very sad news that our Office Manager and Bookkeeper, Becca Bell, passed away from a very short and unexpected illness.

Becca’s was not the loudest voice at staff meetings but it was one of the most influential in helping shape decisions about knotty problems. She was a quiet but powerful force. Her commitment to Habitat, to common sense, and to her unerring compass always helped us decide on what was the right thing to do. Becca remembered everyone’s birthday and employment anniversary and made sure we celebrated in the most caring way. Whether your favorite treat was Ben and Jerry’s ice cream or locally sourced, organic vegetables, she had you covered on your special day.

For the last five years we have come to take excellence in our accounting and internal controls for granted. No one could have done a better job.

She will be missed, not only as a co-worker, but as a decent human being whose ethics and compassion we should all emulate.

Our condolences and deepest sympathy goes out to all who knew her. We were the blessed ones to be in her presence and now feel the emptiness of her leaving this world.

God bless, Becca!