A house that makes a home
Seven generations ago, Evie Bopp’s ancestors homesteaded in Colorado and began silver mining. In three weeks, Evie’s family will again live in another home built with hard work and a pioneering spirit.Evie, her husband Steve, and their grandchildren Alex and Shawn (ages 10 and 12) are the recipients of a Habitat for Humanity home in Gypsum. Like all Habitat families, they qualified, in part, because of their need for decent shelter. The family of four has lived in a small trailer home in Edwards since 1997 when the Bopps gained legal guardianship of the two boys. It is not the cramped quarters alone, however, that make the situation difficult Evie suffers from Multiple Sclerosis (MS), a disease that has confined her to a wheelchair and made her legally blind.A habitat homestead”It’s a little house,” Evie says, “but a very friendly-feeling house.” For Evie, the welcoming nature of the house is especially poignant it was designed to suit her needs as a handicapped person. The home is entirely flat, so a wheelchair ramp is unnecessary, and the rooms have enough space for Evie to turn 360 degrees with ease. The doorways are wider to accommodate her wheelchair, and grab bars are situated throughout, with nine in the bathroom alone.Evie is not the only family member to benefit from the house for the first time since moving in with their grandparents, Alex and Shawn will have their own rooms. Before, the boys slept in the front room of the trailer, not giving them much privacy or the family much space. Now, however, each boy has his own, blue-painted room. Initially, all the walls in the home were white, but Shawn and Alex secretly wanted blue bedrooms. When this wish was discovered, the rooms were painted blue in time for the dedication as a surprise. The thrill of both the room itself and its blue hue was evident when Shawn spoke at the ceremony (held Feb. 25 in Gypsum): his very first comment was: “Thank you for my bedroom.”The bumpy road to GypsumEvie grew up in Boulder, but left the Front Range at 18 and went to California. Married with a son, she went to college for a degree in Psychology. In 1986, though, she decided to come home. She had just gone through a divorce and was looking for a job, so she chose the valley as a place to start again. Not only was she able to support herself here, but she and her present husband, Steve, also thrived on the beautiful surroundings.”Both of us truly love the mountains,” she says, citing their appreciation of nature and having been able to hike and enjoy the outdoors.In 1997, Evie and Steve sought legal guardianship of Alex and Shawn, who were then two and four years old. Their mother and father were not present in their lives, and the Bopps took on the responsibility of raising the boys. Today, Alex and Shawn are busy in activities like 4-H; and they’ve promised to contribute their own sweat equity toward their new home.Five years ago, the Bopps’ life became even more challenging. Evie had her first MS attack, which she initially thought was a stroke. “The MS threw us for a loop,” Evie says, “and it’s been a bumpy road.” MS is an unpredictable disease, one that can exist in remitting/recurring cycles. As a result, Evie and her family are never sure when the next attack will happen, or what further damage it may cause.A ‘blitz’ buildBecause of the tenuous nature of Evie’s condition, Habitat decided that the new home needed to be built as quickly as possible. “From one day to another, we don’t know what the MS is going to do to me,” Evie states, so the improved living conditions and better quality of life that come with the new house are integral to the family. As a result, their home was built “blitz” style completed in about two months.Originally, the completion date was set for December of 2004, but weather and regulations slowed the progress. The Bopps could move in today, but they are wisely giving themselves an extra month to make the transition. Many of their possessions are already in storage in Gypsum, and by allowing themselves extra time, they are protecting Evie’s health (too much strain or activity can make her more susceptible to a MS attack).Since being diagnosed with MS, Evie has been forced to relearn many elements of her life. To breath, she had to get a transtracheal device, to move, she needed a wheelchair, and even to go to the dentist, she had to conquer three flights of stairs. Nevertheless, her life continues to be rich with family and friends, and she is happy to be home everyday when her grandsons finish school. When asked about her life since the MS diagnosis, she references the carpe diem message of country-music artist Tim McGraw: “You know the country song, ‘Live Like You Were Dying’?” she asks, “I think we do that.” VTUrsula Gross can be reached for comment at email@example.com.The Habitat for HumanityCarpenter’s BallWhere: Village Hall, Park Hyatt, Beaver CreekWhen: March 12, 5:30 p.m.Tickets: $125 (proceeds benefit local Habitats for Humanity).Call: (970) 748-6718 for more information
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Are we seeing more bears because there are more bears on the valley floor, or because we’re all spending more time at home? It could be a bit of both.