Local Habitat for Humanity continues work | VailDaily.com

Local Habitat for Humanity continues work

GYPSUM — No longer forced to bunk with both his siblings, Salvador Lopez will have an easier time concentrating on his goals, such as the Guardian Scholars program. The Lopezs — 16-year-old Salvador, 14-year-old Luis, 10-year-old Diane and their parents, Yolanda and Salvador — were among six local families to celebrate the dedication of their new homes Saturday in the Stratton Flats neighborhood. The Habitat for Humanity Vail Valley homeowner families contributed hundreds of hours of sweat equity to the project over the last year, working on the construction of their homes and other houses in the neighborhood. The families also attended educational workshops designed to help ensure their success as new homeowners, and the monthly payments on their low-cost mortgages will be put toward building more Habitat Vail Valley homes. "We're still settling Western Colorado, and that's what we're doing here today," said Kathy Chandler-Henry, an Eagle County commissioner and board member with Habitat Vail Valley, adding in a quote from Wallace Stegner. "We're creating a society to match our scenery." THE DREAM OF OWNING A HOME While the Stratton Flats community is still under construction, the larger community of Gypsum and Eagle is one that new Habitat homeowner Frances Carthy knows well. "I've spent all 32 years of my life in the Gypsum/Eagle area," Carthy told the group of 30 or so gathered at the dedication on Saturday. "My entire family lives in this area — aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, nieces, nephews — and this is our home." Carthy said house prices in the area are "far from affordable," and the Habitat program is one of the only ways she will be able own a home. "Habitat for Humanity has made my dreams come true," she said. Habitat for Humanity Vail Valley will continue work on the Stratton Flats neighborhood in the coming years after recently purchasing more land in the area. "We'll do six more duplexes this summer, and six next summer," said John Welaj, executive director of Habitat Vail Valley. 'MUCH EASIER FOR US NOW' Even though his family has already earned their home through their work in the neighborhood, Salvador Lopez plans to continue working on the new homes coming to the area. "The community is really nice here," he said. The volunteer hours will help Lopez meet the qualification criteria in applying for the Colorado Mountain College and Colorado Mesa College Guardian Scholars programs, which he sees as his best shot at getting a college education. "I have to have a 3.2 GPA. I have to be involved in the community. I also have to be doing sports and citizenship activities," he said. "There's a lot to it, but you just have to keep everything going." Lopez will be the first person from his family to attend college. "Historically, I think we've had four or five Habitat homeowner families who have had kids accepted into the Guardian Scholars program, which is basically a free ride, as long as they meet certain criteria," Welaj said. "We've been talking about how Salvador has been meeting that, and will hopefully be applying to the Guardian Scholar program. We expect great things of him." Lopez said his sophomore year at Eagle Valley High School went really well. "Everything is much easier for us now," he said.

Local Habitat for Humanity continues work

GYPSUM — No longer forced to bunk with both his siblings, Salvador Lopez will have an easier time concentrating on his goals, such as the Guardian Scholars program. The Lopezs — 16-year-old Salvador, 14-year-old Luis, 10-year-old Diane and their parents, Yolanda and Salvador — were among six local families to celebrate the dedication of their new homes Saturday in the Stratton Flats neighborhood. The Habitat for Humanity Vail Valley homeowner families contributed hundreds of hours of sweat equity to the project over the last year, working on the construction of their homes and other houses in the neighborhood. The families also attended educational workshops designed to help ensure their success as new homeowners, and the monthly payments on their low-cost mortgages will be put toward building more Habitat Vail Valley homes. "We're still settling Western Colorado, and that's what we're doing here today," said Kathy Chandler-Henry, an Eagle County commissioner and board member with Habitat Vail Valley, adding in a quote from Wallace Stegner. "We're creating a society to match our scenery." THE DREAM OF OWNING A HOME While the Stratton Flats community is still under construction, the larger community of Gypsum and Eagle is one that new Habitat homeowner Frances Carthy knows well. "I've spent all 32 years of my life in the Gypsum/Eagle area," Carthy told the group of 30 or so gathered at the dedication on Saturday. "My entire family lives in this area — aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, nieces, nephews — and this is our home." Carthy said house prices in the area are "far from affordable," and the Habitat program is one of the only ways she will be able own a home. "Habitat for Humanity has made my dreams come true," she said. Habitat for Humanity Vail Valley will continue work on the Stratton Flats neighborhood in the coming years after recently purchasing more land in the area. "We'll do six more duplexes this summer, and six next summer," said John Welaj, executive director of Habitat Vail Valley. 'MUCH EASIER FOR US NOW' Even though his family has already earned their home through their work in the neighborhood, Salvador Lopez plans to continue working on the new homes coming to the area. "The community is really nice here," he said. The volunteer hours will help Lopez meet the qualification criteria in applying for the Colorado Mountain College and Colorado Mesa College Guardian Scholars programs, which he sees as his best shot at getting a college education. "I have to have a 3.2 GPA. I have to be involved in the community. I also have to be doing sports and citizenship activities," he said. "There's a lot to it, but you just have to keep everything going." Lopez will be the first person from his family to attend college. "Historically, I think we've had four or five Habitat homeowner families who have had kids accepted into the Guardian Scholars program, which is basically a free ride, as long as they meet certain criteria," Welaj said. "We've been talking about how Salvador has been meeting that, and will hopefully be applying to the Guardian Scholar program. We expect great things of him." Lopez said his sophomore year at Eagle Valley High School went really well. "Everything is much easier for us now," he said.

Vail Valley Habitat for Humanity chapter honored

EAGLE COUNTY — Habitat for Humanity Vail Valley is one of only 23 organizations in the United States recognized by Habitat for Humanity International as an Affiliate of Distinction. The Affiliates of Distinction program was established to honor Habitat affiliates that demonstrate excellence through meeting or exceeding best practices and to showcase the work of honorees across the Habitat network. Habitat Vail Valley is the only rural affiliate in the country to receive this recognition. There are approximately 1,400 Habitat for Humanity organizations in the United States. Community is benefiting "We are so honored to have this distinction," said John Welaj, executive director. "But, the real reward is knowing that our local community is benefiting from the hard work our volunteers, Habitat homeowners, board of directors and staff put in every day." Habitat organizations considered for the honor were reviewed on four criteria: building a sustainable organization; building community impact; building sector impact and building societal impact. The 23 Habitat affiliates chosen as Affiliates of Distinction were recognized during a special ceremony at Habitat's biennial U.S. Affiliate Conference on Wednesday in Atlanta, Georgia. Four representatives from Habitat for Humanity Vail Valley were present to accept the award. Since 1995, Habitat for Humanity Vail Valley has worked in Eagle County to help local families achieve strength, stability and self-reliance through shelter. Through its efforts, more than 68 Habitat homeowners have built or improved places they can call home. Habitat for Humanity Vail Valley is currently building six homes per year in Gypsum's Stratton Flats neighborhood. Its goal is to build affordable, sustainable homes and to empower families through successful home ownership. Habitat homeowners help build their own homes alongside volunteers and pay an affordable mortgage. Since 1995, Habitat for Humanity Vail Valley has built and renovated 68 homes in Eagle and Lake counties in the communities of Leadville, Edwards, Eagle and Gypsum. For more information, go to http://www.habitat vailvalley.org.

Three bears have died in Aspen neighborhood

Two bears were killed last week on an Aspen road, and a state wildlife official said that more bears may be killed before this summer is over.Pitkin and Summit counties are seeing unprecedented numbers of human/bear encounters this season, though statewide, problems are minimal, according to Todd Malmsbury, a spokesman for the Colorado Division of Wildlife.Localized freezes in June apparently wiped out much of the berry and acorn crops that are mainstays of the black bears’ diet, Malmsbury said. Wildlife officials say bear trouble is at an all-time high in the Aspen area.Earlier this week, wildlife officers set traps in an Aspen neighborhood where multiple bears have been foraging for food in broad daylight and showing little fear of humans.A sow was euthanized there earlier this week, and her two cubs were taken to a wildlife rehabilitation specialist.”We may well have to destroy more bears before we’re done here,” Malmsbury said. “When it gets to the point where they’re that persistent – breaking through doors, breaking through windows … those bears are going to keep coming back. “The sows are going to teach their cubs – we have to break that cycle.”In Summit County, a bear tore through a garage door, according to Malmsbury. Reports of bear encounters have become a daily occurrence in the Aspen area. Earlier this week, a bear ripped into a camper’s tent at the Snowmass Creek trailhead, but he woman inside the tent was not seriously hurt.Human/bear encounters rise when the animals’ natural food supply is in short supply, according to Malmsbury. Data kept by the Division of Wildlife shows the number of bears killed by means other than hunting jumps during seasons when the habitat is in poor condition.In the statewide drought of 2002, non-hunting bear kills totaled 404, according to the DOW, up from 273 in 2001. A year later, in 2003, the number dropped to 113, Malmsbury said.In 2002, the Division of Wildlife killed 55 bears, landowners killed 83 of the animals, and road kills totaled 156. In 2003, when the bears’ natural food supply rebounded, the DOW was forced to kill only 13 bears, landowners killed 26, and 57 bears died on roads.

Tickets on sale now for March 11 Carpenters Ball

EAGLE COUNTY — Tickets are on sale now for Habitat for Humanity Vail Valley's 18th annual Carpenters' Ball, which will be held March 11 at 6 p.m. at the Park Hyatt Beaver Creek. All funds raised benefit Habitat for Humanity's local home building efforts, which help Eagle County families achieve the strength, stability and self-reliance they need to build better lives for themselves. "The Carpenters' Ball is the official kick-off to Habitat's construction season," said Julie Kapala, Communications & Events Manager for Habitat for Humanity Vail Valley. "The dollars raised at the event will help fund the building materials needed to construct six new Habitat homes, which will be built with local families in Gypsum's Stratton Flats neighborhood." Ticket information Tickets to the 2017 Carpenters' Ball are $175 each; $200 each after March 3. A table of 10 tickets is $1,750. Event tickets include a western-themed evening with limitless wine, beer, specialty cocktails and dinner. There will also be silent and live auctions and music by the local favorite Brothers Keeper band. Tickets can be purchased online at http://www.habitat vailvalley.org or by calling 970-748-6718 ext. 122. "A Habitat home is a stabilizing force for a family," Kapala said. "Better, affordable living conditions lead to improved health, stronger childhood development and financial flexibility to make forward-looking choices." Habitat for Humanity Vail Valley is currently building six homes per year in Gypsum's Stratton Flats neighborhood. Its goal is to build affordable, sustainable homes, and to empower families through successful home ownership. Habitat homeowners help build their own homes alongside volunteers and pay an affordable mortgage. Since 1995, Habitat for Humanity Vail Valley has built and renovated 68 homes in Eagle and Lake Counties in Leadville, Edwards, Eagle and Gypsum.

Habitat for Humanity to dedicate homes Saturday

GYPSUM — Five more success stories will be added Saturday to the local Habitat for Humanity affiliate. Habitat for Humanity Vail Valley will dedicate five more homes, bringing their total to 56 since 1995. "We are excited to help make the dream of safe, affordable homeownership a reality for five more deserving Eagle County families," said John Welaj, executive director of Habitat Vail Valley. "Habitat is committed to strengthening communities and peoples' lives and to creating opportunities for low-income families to develop equity and independence through homeownership." Like all Habitat homeowners, these five families contributed hundreds of hours of sweat equity, working on constructing their homes, as well as homes of others. They also participated in educational programs designed to strengthen the entire family and help to ensure their success as new homeowners, Welaj said. The new homeowners will make monthly payments on a low-cost, no-interest mortgage. That money stays in the Vail Valley, and goes toward building more Habitat Vail Valley homes. "The sweat equity hours were difficult, but so rewarding in the end," said Jessica Mapes, one of the new Habitat Vail Valley homeowners. "The Habitat staff was so supportive and always there to lend an ear and keep us motivated. It has been a blessing being a part of this community." About Habitat for Humanity Celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2015, Habitat for Humanity Vail Valley has served 54 local families to date housing and improving the lives of nearly 200 local children. Habitat works in more than 70 countries, worldwide, and welcomes people of all races, religions and nationalities to partner in its mission. For more information about Habitat Vail Valley's home dedication, or to volunteer, visit habitatvailvalley.org or call 970-748-6718.

Local Habitat for Humanity volunteers for build trip to Vietnam

VIETNAM — The Vail Valley Habitat for Humanity affiliate has joined volunteers from around the world for a Global Village Build Trip to Vietnam. Habitat for Humanity Vail Valley organized an international Global Village build trip to Vietnam in October 2016. Eight Eagle County locals joined approximately 200 others from the U.S., New Zealand, Hong Kong and a number of other countries. Throughout the course of five days, 20 homes were built in a small rice farming village with Vietnamese families, many of whom suffered from disabilities or other hardships in their lives. The trip to Vietnam was my first experience volunteering abroad, and I was not sure what to expect. I had questions: How would Americans be received decades after the Vietnam War? Should I travel half-way around the world to do humanitarian work when there is plenty of need here at home? By the end of my trip, my questions were answered. The Vietnamese people I met were some of the friendliest, welcoming, hard-working individuals I had ever encountered. Building alongside Team Vail were the husband and wife who would be living in the home. We met three of their children; two girls, ages 12 and 9 and a 4-year-old boy. We were introduced to the family's 80-year-old grandmother. Her back was shaped like an "S" from a life of hard work in the rice fields. We built with a local construction crew that was incredibly patient with our slower pace. We became great friends with our house coordinator who acted as our translator, tour guide, and even pity-laughed at all of our bad jokes. The work was hard and it was hotter than blazes. We spent most of our time mixing concrete and mortar by hand, and transporting and laying bricks. What physical advantage we gained from coming from Vail at 8,000 feet to sea level was canceled out by the humidity. I spent most of the day looking like I had just jumped in a swimming pool while wearing clothes. Team Vail persevered, though. Our awesome crew encouraged each other and everyone brought a positive attitude. The local Vietnamese construction crew motivated us with their relentless work ethic. The husband, wife and children who would be moving into the house fueled us with fresh fruit, green tea and smiles of appreciation. I ultimately spent more hours traveling to Vietnam than actually building, but the lasting impact of this trip was more than building houses, it was about making human connections and spreading goodwill. Throughout the week our group shared many smiles, laughs, hugs and tears of joy with the Vietnamese locals. Despite our different languages, culture, experiences and countries' histories we were able to find common ground with each other as people. We connected over the fundamental need for all families — to have a safe shelter to call home. Andrew Donilon is the volunteer coordinator for Habitat for Humanity Vail Valley.

Carpenters’ Ball returns to Beaver Creek on Saturday

EAGLE COUNTY — On Saturday, Habitat for Humanity Vail Valley will host its 17th annual Carpenters' Ball at the Park Hyatt Beaver Creek. The event, themed "Saddle up for a Good Cause," kicks off at 6 p.m. with cocktails, dinner and both silent and live auctions, with music by local favorite Brothers Keeper. All funds raised are reinvested into Habitat's work — creating affordable homeownership opportunities for families living in Eagle County. "It's been a tremendous year for Habitat," said Julie Kapala, communications and events manager. "We completed a successful Blitz Build event and purchased new land to build 12 more homes in Stratton Flats. We have so much to celebrate at this year's Carpenters' Ball, but with new land comes the need for more resources to build these additional homes." Tickets to the Carpenters' Ball are $200 each. A table of 10 tickets is $2,000. For more information about Habitat for Humanity Vail Valley or to purchase tickets for the Carpenters' Ball, visit http://www.habitatvail valley.org or call 970-748-6718, ext. 122. Founded locally in 1995, Habitat for Humanity Vail Valley has served 62 local families to date housing and improving the lives of nearly 200 local children.

Local Habitat for Humanity slates blitz build

Habitat for Humanity likes to give a hand up to one family at a time; this month those hands will move quickly.Habitat for Humanity of Eagle and Lake Counties is launching its first “blitz build,” an effort to see how quickly a Habitat house can be constructed.Nationally and internationally, Habitat for Humanity has conducted hundreds of blitz builds. The U.S. record was set in Alabama, where an affiliate put up a house in under three hours.While the local Habitat affiliate won’t come close to that, they do hope to have a family in their new Gypsum home before it’s time to break out the snowblowers for the real, around Christmas.Tom Healy, executive director of Habitat for Humanity of Eagle and Lake Counties, said Habitat has followed the traditional method – using as much volunteer labor as possible and finishing a house over a period of months. A local Habitat family has, however, fallen on desperate times and the need for immediate housing has forced the local affiliate to elevate speed over tradition. Steve and Evie Bopp know what it’s like to work hard. They’re bless with two grandchildren, ages 9 and 11, who live with them. “They keep us young,” says Evie.Evie does, however, have more challenges than most. Multiple Sclerosis has Evie has left her blind and confined to a wheelchair. As the disease progresses, their mobile home continues to shrink and the battle to get ahead becomes more and more desperate. The family is slated to be a Habitat partner family next year, and their house trailer is showing signs that it won’t make the winter, but the Bopps said they would make it “somehow.””Somehow” walked through the door last week when representatives from Habitat for Humanity and local developer Rick Hermes walked through their door.”It’s impossible to build a house quickly through our normal process,” said Healy. “Most of the time a family works on their home for months prior to taking over the no-interest loan and moving in. The Bopp family was ready to start this process next year, but Mrs. Bopp’s ongoing disease has created a situation that needs to be addressed immediately.”Hermes, one of Habitat’s longtime supporters, stepped up and brought along his companies, Community Concepts and Hermes Custom Homes, to back his promise to build the Bopp family residence in time for a Christmas homecoming. Dave and Sande Garton have also helped set the stage for success, selling Habitat a parcel in their Buckhorn Valley neighborhood.”The Bopp family represents the type of family we work with perfectly,” said Jean Klein, board president of Habitat for Humanity of Eagle and Lake Counties. “They are hard working and self sufficient, yet living in substandard housing while facing enormous health issues. Residents of Buckhorn Valley are eager for them to move and have a neighborhood support system.” Construction will begin as soon as plans have been approved through Gypsum’s approval process.”Miracles happen,” said a teary-eyed Evie. “One took place today.For information, call Habitat for Humanity (970) 748-6718.

Off the Hill with Tricia Swenson: ‘Building blitz’ in Gypsum courtesy of Habitat for Humanity Vail Valley

It's amazing what a house can provide. A house becomes more than just shelter when it promotes stability, strength and self-reliance. Since 1995, Habitat for Humanity Vail Valley has built decent, affordable houses for local families. These homes create a future for families. From grade point averages skyrocketing to college acceptance letters pouring in, the security found is worth every nail and shingle put into each project. In the first 20 years of Habitat for Humanity's existence in the Vail Valley, the volunteer organization served 14 families. Since 2006, 54 families have been served and they are not finished yet. With help from local builders, volunteers and families who contribute sweat equity — hours worked on other Habitat for Humanity projects — four communities will be completed throughout Eagle County. One of those neighborhoods is Stratton Flats in Gypsum. When construction efforts are complete, there will be 40 Habitat for Humanity homes. Volunteers are key to this success and so are Community Build Weeks, which are multi-day events that challenge local businesses and individuals to volunteer at least one day to help build a home from the ground up. Habitat for Humanity has always prided itself on offering a "hand up" and not a "hand out." To qualify for a Habitat for Humanity home, applicants must have a need for affordable, decent housing. They must also have the ability to pay a monthly mortgage payment at zero interest and the willingness to partner with Habitat on the construction of the home. This "blitz build" of sorts brought out various companies doing an office team building day as well as a group of retirees who travel around in their RVs and help out Habitat for Humanity chapters along their route. Besides homes, Habitat for Humanity has teamed up with the town of Gypsum and the Colorado Health Foundation to build a playground in the Stratton Flats neighborhood with KaBoom, a national nonprofit dedicated to giving kids the childhood they deserve. If you would like to help build this new playground, there will be a build day on Saturday, Sept. 24. For more information, visit http://www.HabitatVailValley.org or call 970-748-6718.