Beginning the journey to homeownership with Habitat

Cody, Mary, and Dan VanDyken
Cody, Mary, and Dan VanDyken at their current home in Glacier.

Meet the VanDyken family

Dan VanDyken worked in the construction trades all his life. Until a few years ago.

He and his wife, Mary, and their young grandson Cody, rented a comfortable home in Bellingham. They enjoyed spending weekends at a rustic cabin on a piece of property they owned in Glacier.

But when Dan was diagnosed with severe Crohn’s Disease, and then suffered several strokes as a result, everything changed. Dan was no longer able to work.

“At first, the money I had saved up, I spent on medical bills,” he says.

Even though he eventually got some financial assistance, the bills were still overwhelming, and the home they were renting in Bellingham became unaffordable. They found refuge in the only place they could afford to: their tiny, uninsulated cabin on the Nooksack River.

A few hundred square feet doesn’t provide much room to live, especially not for a very active third-grader. After two and half years together in the cabin, everyone is looking forward to a little more space.

“It’s been hard,” Mary says. “Especially in the cold weather.”

Next year, they’ll finally have a well-insulated house with enough room for everyone. Habitat plans to build the Van Dyken’s new home in the spring of 2014 on the property they already own. The cabin will eventually be demolished.

The family has already the 500 hours of sweat equity required to purchase a Habitat home, much of it by volunteering at the Habitat Store. Soon the family will be at work alongside Habitat volunteers, building a safe, decent, affordable home with room for everyone; a place home that will remain affordable no matter what.

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