Work continues on homes for two Whatcom County families

Habitat for Humanity Whatcom County construction volunteer Noriko Lao installs decorative battens to the exterior of the home being built in Acme. Noriko has volunteered with Habitat for Humanity for more than 20 years, mostly in construction. Photo by Marcie Miller

Habitat for Humanity in Whatcom County construction volunteers were hard at work on Saturday, April 7th, ensuring that another family in Whatcom county will soon have a place to call home.

Construction manager Paul Stromdahl and a half dozen volunteers worked throughout the home on Poppy Lane in Kendall, just off the Mt. Baker Highway, putting up drywall as a forecast of rain and wind derailed roofing plans.

The home is a double wide modular, donated to Habitat by Bellingham business owner, Roger Jobs. It was moved to the site, which was already owned by Habitat for Humanity in Whatcom County, last year. After permits were in place, renovation and enlargement of the home began this year.

Participating in the project are the home’s future owners, Mario Mata and his family of 7 children. The Mata family work on the 1600 square foot home, contributing the required “sweat equity” as their contribution to the home building process.

Paul explained the future homeowners have to agree to put in 500 hours of sweat equity in total as part of their downpayment, with at least 100 of those hours going into the construction of their home. The other hours can be completed volunteering in other capacities for Habitat for Humanity.

As well as keeping construction costs down, according to Habitat for Humanity, sweat equity teaches the future homeowners new skills and instills in them a sense of pride and ownership. They are truly invested in their home.

Habitat home also under construction in Acme

In addition to the Mata home, Paul and his crew of volunteers are also working on an 850 square foot home for Linda Clow in nearby Acme. She currently lives on the property in two old logging cabins, cobbled together into one dwelling, Paul said.

“She was a bus driver in the community for years,” Paul said. “Everyone knows her.”

Paul said that Linda put in her hours in the Habitat store on Cornwall, as well as on her future home.

“She’s well beyond the hours that she needs,” he said.

He also pointed out that volunteer opportunities are available for all levels of abilities.

“She makes great lunches, and that is worth a lot,” he added.

Linda’s future home, built from the ground up, will have even better energy efficiency than was possible with the Mata family’s pre-built modular home, Paul said. Sustainability is key to Habitat for Humanity’s mission.

“This will allow the homeowner to be less impacted by rising energy costs,” Paul said. “We want them to stay in the community and to be a part of the community.”

Habitat homebuyer, Linda Clow. Photo by Malie Laolagi.
Linda Clow's current home in Acme is no longer livable.

Construction volunteers always needed

If you would like to help out a Whatcom County neighbor on their path to home ownership, construction volunteers are always welcome. No construction skills are needed as there is work available for all skill levels. This year Habitat for Humanity in Whatcom County will undertake its largest project ever, 52 townhomes on Telegraph Road, in cooperation with Kulshan Community Land Trust. Many, many hands will be needed to make this project a reality.

To volunteer apply online here.

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