Author: Communications Manager


Women Build Day 2018 draws volunteers from all over Whatcom County

Women Build Day volunteer Ramona Lambert shovels mulch while other volunteers reconstruct a shed. Photo by Marcie Miller.

Blue skies and sunshine greeted the 50 volunteers who turned out on Saturday, May 5th, for Habitat For Humanity in Whatcom County's annual Lowe's Women Build Day. Their goal was to work on site prep for our biggest project - the 54-unit Telegraph Townhomes.

Volunteers helped rebuild a construction shed that needed to be moved out of the way of upcoming construction, and continued work on wetlands mitigation efforts along Baker Creek. There was a lot of mulch moving.

On hand to help were six of the seven Mata family children, who were putting in their final hours of "sweat equity" needed to fund their Habitat home in Kendall. After living with another family since their home in Maple Falls burned down three years ago, they are expected to be able to move in next month! Stay tuned for an invitation to the Mata family's home dedication.

Habitat partner homebuyers contribute 500 hours of sweat equity toward their new house. That can be divided among family members and performed in a variety of ways, from working on their home to working in the Habitat Store. With Mario Sr. and six kids clocking hours, they were able to fill that requirement easily.

"It's awesome what you guys are doing," Johnny Mata said, regarding the Telegraph Townhomes project. His sisters, Jess, Gabby, Michelle, Mari and Dani agreed.

"It's great to be able to provide homes," Dani added. "It's good to know there are still nice people in the world."

They spent the afternoon helping to add more mulch around the saplings and shrubs planted near the pond at the rear of the property.

The Women Build volunteers were divided pretty evenly male and female. As our affiliate moves into the Telegraph Townhomes project, there are big plans to reboot the once active Women Build program in Whatcom County. Annual Women Build Day is just one small step toward that goal.

"Women Build Day is about empowering women," Habitat Whatcom Executive Director, John Moon, explained. "It's not about excluding men. It's great for our mission, and it's a win-win as many homeowners are single women."

The Mata family, left to right: Jessica, Johnny, Dani, Mari, Michelle and Gabriella. Photo by Marcie Miller.

As work wraps up on the Mata family home, volunteer crews will move on to Linda Clow's home in Acme and the Telegraph Townhomes project.

There is plenty of work to go around, with volunteer jobs for all skills levels and abilities. Get involved in volunteering for Habitat Whatcom or sign up for an upcoming build day. For more information on the Telegraph Townhomes project click here.

Members of the Mata family pitch in on Women Build Day at the Telegraph Townhomes site May 5th.

Wetlands Mitigation @Telegraph Townhomes

This year, Habitat Whatcom’s Women’s Build Day will be held on May 5th, 2018, at 1050 Telegraph Rd, the soon-to-be construction site of up to 54 townhomes.
In addition to prepping the site for construction, which is slated to begin this summer, volunteers at Women Build Day will also be bringing the Young Roots wetlands mitigation project to a close.

50+ 4th Graders

Telegraph Townhomes will be constructed along the north fork of Baker Creek, a tributary of Squalicum Creek and a potential home for both bull trout and coho salmon. The Young Roots Wetland Mitigation project was undertaken to lessen the environmental impact this​ development would have on the nearby fish bearing stream.

To complete Young Roots Wetland Mitigation project, Habitat partnered with 4th grade students and their teachers from Parkview Elementary and Columbia Elementary to offer these students the hands-on opportunity to come out onto the mitigation site and to learn the importance of this project. Over 50 students came out to the site on February 28th, 2018 to remove pre-existing invasive species, prep the site for planting, plant sword fern, and begin mulching. 

Panorama view of volunteers working on one section of the Wetland Mitigation project
Nooksack Salmon Enhancement Association planting

Nooksack Salmon Enhancement Association

Additional students and volunteers joined Habitat and the Nooksack Salmon Enhancement Association in a subsequent community planting party in March. With oversight from qualified professionals specializing in riparian mitigationthese amazing volunteers successfully planted 925 native trees and shrubs over 22,000 sq. ft. of stream bank. The successful growth of these trees and shrubs will provide a natural buffer for the stream, wetland and wildlife. This buffer will help shield the area from the runoff, lights and noise of Telegraph Townhomes, ensuring a sustainable environment for generations to come. 

Women Build Day: Completing the Mitigation

Volunteers present at this year's Women Build Day will complete the final stage of this project: mulching the mitigation area. Volunteers will also begin construction of a silt fence on the property.

The Wetlands Mitigation project fulfills land requirements, allowing Telegraph Townhomes construction to begin. Thanks to this project and the incredible volunteers who stepped up to get it done, 54 Whatcom County families are one step closer to a permanent place to call home!

Join us this women build day!

Women Build Day 2018 @Telegraph Townhomes

May 5th, 2018, is Habitat Whatcom’s annual Women Build Day. This will be the first year that serious headway is made on our Telegraph Townhomes site!

About Telegraph Townhomes

Designed to serve the 42% of Whatcom County residents (82,000 people) who struggle to afford stable shelter, Telegraph Townhomes will be the largest project undertaken by Habitat for Humanity in Whatcom County.

This innovative project will double our impact within the next 5 years. And with mortgage options as low as $350 per month, Telegraph Townhomes is the first major step in mending our county’s broken housing continuum.

The architectural design of how the exterior of the townhomes will look.

Exciting Updates for Telegraph

We’re officially breaking ground this year! Finally, in the last stage of the permitting process, we expect to break ground this summer. Stay tuned!

After acquiring an adjacent piece of land, the project doubled in size. Telegraph Townhomes is now expected to house up to 54 local families!

Shown here are the Telegraph Townhome neighborhood layout, proposed structural designs of individual townhomes, and the wetland the neighborhood lines. "Phase 2" represents the recent acquisition of land that has doubled the number of families this project will be able to house!

Lowe’s Women Build Day

Annually, Lowe’s Home Improvement store provides a $5,000 grant to Habitat for Humanity affiliates across the U.S. This year, we’ll be using the Lowe’s grant to get Telegraph Townhomes one step closer to breaking ground, and to finish up our Wetlands Mitigation project, which we started in February.

Help out a Whatcom County neighbor on their path to homeownership! Join us on Women Build Day, May 5th from 9 am to 4 pm, at 1050 Telegraph Road to be a part of this powerful movement.

Lunch, tools, and instructions will be provided.

No construction skills! Work available for all skill levels. Many, many hands will be needed to make Telegraph Townhomes a reality.


Join us

Sign up by clicking here!

Something for everyone at 16th Annual Raise the Roof Auction

Hillary Pritchard and Fred Sheppard show off a donated basket of family fun goodies, ready for the auction. Photo by Marcie Miller.

Two weeks before the annual fundraising auction, the conference room at Habitat for Humanity in Whatcom County is overflowing with donations.

A framed Maxfield Parrish print leans against a Jodi Bergsma print. Blue “Grab-a-Bag” sacks from WECU festoon a coatrack. And a Victorian dollhouse shares a table with a basketful of goodies donated by a local business.

It’s a very busy time for Resource Development Manager, Fred Sheppard, staff and volunteers.

“This is the biggest fundraiser we have of this nature,” Fred said.

The Annual Raise the Roof Auction takes place Saturday, April 28 from 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. at NorthWood Hall, 3240 Northwest Ave. in Bellingham.

Fred said the goal of the auction is to raise $50,000 for HFHWC, which will go toward building at least three single-family homes this year and breaking ground on the 52-unit Telegraph Townhouses project. Last year’s auction met that goal, helping to fund the building of two single-family homes. It’s appropriate that the theme of this year’s auction is “Creating Pathways,” as in pathways to homeownership.


Two hundred items in total have been donated from both businesses and individuals. Ten large ticket items will be up for bid in a live auction, while the rest will be displayed in a silent auction format. Items include meals, artwork, collectibles, sports equipment and memorabilia, wines, home and garden items, toys, jewelry and more.

Serving as auctioneers for the event will be local businessmen Mike Kent and Chet Kenoyer, who have proved their auctioneering chops at previous events.

Event-goers will have the chance to raise their paddles for items such as ten 10 oz. bars of silver (each valued at $172 at the time of donation), a salmon fishing trip in the San Juans with Keith Johnson ($350 value), a week-long holiday at Kala Point courtesy of Ken Trupp ($650 value) or a stunning pair of diamond and sapphire earrings from Borthwick Jewelry, Inc. in Ferndale (a whopping $1,400 value).

In addition to the exciting auction items, the evening includes a catered dinner (prime rib!), live entertainment with local acoustic musician Thomas Sandblom, several fun games and a “treasure chest,” Fred said.

View from Kala Point, a wooded community on Port Townsend Bay. Photo from

Tickets still available

Individual tickets are $45 and include two drinks (beer or wine), appetizers and dinner, as well as the entertainment and auctions. Why not make it a party? Full tables, with seating for 8, are available for $360.

To purchase tickets click here.

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.

Way to Get Neighborly, Whatcom County!

Our first ever Build Community Day was a rousing success! Sixty volunteers came out to the Leeside Drive neighborhood in Birch Bay on Saturday and got busy on projects small and large, including:

  • digging a ditch
  • power washing
  • landscaping
  • debris removal
  • painting
  • cleaning gutters

It was an ambitious spring clean-up event that left everyone muddy, sore, and smiling. (View the Build Community Day photo album.) Our heartfelt thanks to every helping hand and to Whatcom Community Foundation’s Project Neighborly grant for making Build Community Day possible.

What’s Next?

There’s still work to be done on house #37 … we need to caulk and paint the exterior and install gutters as well as hang drywall, paint, and finish the floors inside. You can help by donating funds to the project and/or volunteering your time. To sign up for a new volunteer orientation, email Sarah at


Raise the Roof with us on April 22nd

Our 15th annual auction and dinner is right around the corner and we hope you’ll join us! Bid on lots of fantastic items, including:

  • $1000 gift certificate to Semiahmoo Resort
  • A matching pair of Infinity bikes
  • Salmon fishing in the San Juans for up to 3 people on a 24ft. Bayliner Trophy complete with 3 downriggers
  • A private plane ride for 3
  • Papa John’s pizza for a year

A Fun, Affordable Evening Out

You’ll enjoy appetizers, drinks, and a Northwest themed buffet including crab cakes, pork, chicken, and more. Live entertainment, fun games, and the always popular Dessert Dash help make this event a real winner at the low price of $40 per person. Buy tickets at the Habitat Store or online (small processing fee added for online ticket purchases) today. Proceeds from the auction will help fund the construction of Telegraph Townhomes, a multi-family housing developed we plan to break ground on this year. Let’s build the future!

Spring Break in … rainy Whatcom County?

This month, two separate groups of college students have visited to volunteer with Habitat over their spring breaks as part Collegiate Challenge. Impressive, no? Instead of traveling someplace sunny where they could park themselves on a sandy beach for a week, these students chose to come to Whatcom County and help us build strength, stability, and self-reliance through shelter.

Yes, we think that’s impressive.

Collegiate Challenge 2017

A couple of weeks ago the group from Carnegie Mellon (pictured above) spent their Spring Break putting up siding at 7535 Leeside Drive. This week, a group from the University of California, Berkeley (pictured below) is doing prep work for a community garden just outside of the Birchwood warehouse. Enthusiastic and eager to learn, both these groups are leaving us better off than they found us.

Thank you, Collegiate Challenge volunteers! We hope your trip to Whatcom County was as rewarding for you as your visit was to us.

Volunteer Abroad with Habitat

In Whatcom County, we’re already working in partnership with low-income families to build safe, decent homes where they can live and grow into their fullest potential. Now
we have the opportunity to extend our vision of a world where everyone has a decent place to live beyond Whatcom County by traveling abroad to build alongside some of
our international neighbors.

Join Us In …

At this time we have build trips scheduled for:

All Q&A Sessions are at the Habitat Store. No question or concern is too large or too small! If you can’t attend a Q&A
Session, don’t worry … it’s not a requirement.

Learn More

To sign up for a Q&A Session, schedule an informational call, or get more details, call or email Sarah: (360) 715-9170 ext. 1016 Download a printable flyer here.

The Finish Line Is on the Horizon

It took years to get the building permit, but the construction work – now that we actually have the permit – is flying by. Soon enough we’ll be inviting you to a home dedication.

A Special House

We’re got walls and windows, a roof complete with solar panels, and the siding is going up now. The windows are triple-paned, low-e, argon which will go a long way towards insulating the house. (Thank you, West Coast Windows!) The green zip board you see in the picture has a semi-permeable membrane which allows moisture out but not in. The solar panels will help get this house to net zero energy efficiency. (Thank you, Western Solar!) We strive for superior energy efficiency in all our home builds, but we expect 7535 Leeside Drive to be our most energy efficient build to date.

Help Us Reach the Finish Line

With lots of helping hands, we might be able to finish this house by the end of April. Call Sarah at (360) 715-9170 or send an email to to get involved. We build on Wednesdays and Saturdays, and on April 8th we’re hosting Build Community Day – a special build day focusing not just on the house but on the immediately surrounding neighborhood as well. Join us!


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