Shirley and her husband, Gary, moved from Montana to Seattle in 1966. At the time, Gary worked in the aircraft industry and was recruited by Boeing. Eventually, Shirley would work in parts procurement with both Hexcel and Boeing. Through that position, Shirley got to live in both China and Malaysia.
After returning to Seattle from living abroad, the couple decided they were done with the gridlocked, big city life, and decided to retire. “Our very best friend lived in Bellingham, so of course this was a very natural place to move to. And we absolutely love Bellingham.”
When she got to Whatcom, Shirley followed through with her plan. She joined Habitat for Humanity in Whatcom County, first as a volunteer at the Habitat Office and Store, and she often volunteered at the build sites, joining our Women Build crew. Eventually, she settled on being a homebuyer advocate.
Advocates are caring volunteers who have been trained to support our partner families through the homebuyer program. They make sure our families maintain eligibility, and that they have access to all of the resources and education they’ll need to buy and own a home.
Currently, Shirley is an advocate for both the Lopez and the Klein families. She considers it a privilege to be part of a family’s life as they take on such a momentous achievement — owning their own home.
“Owning a home is such a major milestone for any of us,” she said, “especially for deserving people, who, because of circumstances beyond their control, were never able to achieve homeownership. To get to support people who are so deserving, and to walk that journey with them is just so rewarding.”
Shirley has a deep respect for how hard Habitat homebuyers work to make their dream a reality. Many juggle fulfilling their sweat equity hours with second or third jobs, even while taking care of their children. “To me, that just says so much for the type of wonderful people that Habitat has as partner families. They earn that home 1,000%. I’m just so proud of every one of them.”
One of the aspects of the Telegraph Townhome Project that is so exciting for us at Habitat, is the fact that it will be a community of homebuyers, who not only contributed many hours into the construction of their own home, but also their neighbors’. As someone who believes that everyone deserves not only a place to live, but to also feel at home in their community, Shirley is thrilled about what the future holds for Telegraph.
“They will all know one another, they’ve worked together, they respect one another,” she said, “they’ll create their own Covenants, Conditions & Restrictions, and select their own board of directors. It’s just a continuation, and Habitat is a wonderful foundation for them to be able to go on this next leg of that journey.”
The Lopez family just moved into Telegraph Townhome Community this summer. “I got an email from Sergio,” Shirley said, “And of course, he’s anxious for Gary and I to visit them in their new home…I’m so thrilled for them. They’ve worked so hard…They’ve put in so many hours beyond the basic requirements. God bless them.
“Both the Lopez family and Kelly Klein, I expect that we’ll be lifelong friends… I’m not just their advocate, and they’re not just my partner family, they are my friends, my very treasured, trusted friends.”