Habitat for Humanity affiliate dedicates six new homes | VailDaily.com

Habitat for Humanity affiliate dedicates six new homes

Photo by Joe Kania/Axel Media Solutions

GYPSUM — Erica Ross’ voice broke just a little as she flashed a million watt smile and spoke on behalf of the six new Habitat for Humanity partner families in Eagle County.

“All of us wanted a better place, a stable place, to raise our families,” Ross said. “We are building a community and a better future. … Thank you for walking with us. Thank you for being a friend.”

The local Habitat affiliate dedicated six new homes in Stratton Flats. That makes 41 homes — 41 families with an untold number of children. It’s untold because the kids don’t stop long enough to count them.

Thursday’s home dedication sounded like love. The children were laughing and talking and running, their parents watching from not too far away but not too close, and smiling because their children now feel happy and safe.

Jason Haynes, pastor of Gracious Savior Lutheran Church, asked God to bless the homes as a place for the families “to sleep, to grow, to do life.”

“You’re not just building homes, you’re building a community,” Haynes said.

It takes a community

The Eagle River Presbyterian Church quilters club used to do a quit for each family, said quilter Ruth Powers. Now they make a quilt for each kid. As Habitat was building the 16 Fox Hollow homes in Edwards, 62 kids got quilts. If busy hands are happy hands, and they are, these women’s fingers are ecstatic.

“They not only built their own homes, they helped build each other’s homes,” said Curtis Gerdes, an AmeriCorps volunteer working with Habitat.

The community has been part of the project since it broke ground.

Ritz Carlton employees worked more than 500 hours under their Community Footprint program.

Brian Bliss was there, representing American Gypsum. The wallboard manufacturing plant in Gypsum provided the wallboard.

Active Energies in Minturn donated solar panels and the partner families installed them, one set on the east side of the roof, the other on the west. They work so well that when the homes were being constructed the electric meters ran backward. The utility company was paying them.

Two families got their electric bill for their first month. One was $2 and the other was $7. They were used to paying hundreds of dollars each month to try to stay warm, so they called the electric company to ask if the bill was right. It was.

These six are Habitat’s first homes completed in Stratton Flats. A couple weeks ago they broke ground on six more. After that it’ll be six more. They’re talking with the Pauls Corporation to buy more lots in Stratton Flats, and are on the radar of another developer for 16 homes in Edwards.

Guy Ayrault (pronounced Arrow, as in straight as an arrow) has been hammering Habitat nails since the local affiliate launched in 1995. They built the first house in 1996, on Second Street in Gypsum. The Presbyterian Church sold them lot for a song and named the project Hanson, after their minister at the time. A few years later they built homes in Leadville because the land was cheap. The worked moved back to this valley with Fox Hollow in Edwards, and now Stratton Flats in Gypsum.

It’s 41 houses and Ayrault has been part of each one.

How it works

Partner families work hundreds of hours building “sweat equity” helping to build their homes. When they’re done they buy it with 30-year mortgage at a zero interest rate.

It’s all part of Habitat for Humanity of Eagle and Lake County’s $6 million capacity building campaign, aimed at funding a 10-year land inventory and the construction costs for 75 homes locally and 75 homes internationally through the global tithe program.

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or rwyrick@vaildaily.com.

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