Archive for Partner family

2015 Lowe’s National Women Build Event

Saturday May 9th marked our Lowe’s Women Build event. 50 volunteers came out and helped spread fill sand on the current build project for the VanDyken family house. The weather could not have been better! We want to thank everyone who came out and Lowe’s for sponsoring the event. We also want to say thank you to Valpak for providing lunch for the hungry crew.

Visit our Facebook page for more photos from the day.

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Housing and Education

A decent home provides kids with more than shelter. It’s gives them a place to succeed.

Finally Home

Leandra and Guadalupe Huante

Leandra Huante and her daughter Guadalupe in the Huante’s new Habitat home

The Huante family used to live in a dilapidated two-bedroom house without insulation. The home was conveniently near the farm where husband Jaime Huante works, and for a couple working three jobs between them and struggling to get by, it was the best shelter they could afford.

Winters were so cold that the couple didn’t feel safe letting their children sleep in their frigid north-facing bedroom, so the whole family crowded into Jaime and his wife Leandra’s room during the coldest months of the year.

When Leandra, a Whatcom County native, learned about Habitat for Humanity in Whatcom County’s homeownership program, she convinced her husband that they apply. They figured it was a long shot. But they had nothing to lose.

When they were accepted into the program, the family dug into their 500 hour sweat equity requirement and did not look back. Leandra worked at the Habitat Store in between her two part time jobs and caring for her children. After all that, she still found time to cook pots of homemade soup for delighted construction volunteers working on her home.

Jaime joined the construction crew almost every Saturday, after having risen at 3 a.m. to milk cows. After building all day, he returned to the farm for another shift of milking.

This summer, the Huante family moved into Habitat Whatcom’s first ultra-energy efficient “passive” style house. Even before their first winter, Leandra says the family has noticed a dramatic decrease in their utility bills.

The children have their own rooms (though sisters Alejandra and Guadalupe are close and prefer to room together) and a place they are proud to invite friends over to play, and instead of a remote, rural road with fast traffic and no sidewalk, they live on a quiet dead-end street, near other families with young children. There is a park at the end of the street, and the Interurban Trail is just over their back fence.

“We love to ride our bikes together,” Leandra says. “We go all over town.”

Five-year-old Guadalupe just started Kindergarten, and is proud to show visitors her new backpack and school supplies. Leandra hopes her children can go to college one day. With all the advantages of a safe, healthy, stable home, and the hundreds of dollars each month that the family is saving on housing and utility bills, seeing her children graduate from college is now a realistic dream.

When asked what the biggest difference is between their new home and the old one, Leandra laughs and looks skyward helplessly, as if she doesn’t know where to begin. Before her mother can start to speak, Guadalupe interrupts with her opinion. “We’re safe,” she says.

“Yes,” Leandra agrees, smiling at her daughter. “We’re safe.”

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.