Habitat’s home-building plans | VailDaily.com

Habitat’s home-building plans

Story and photos by Carolyn Pope
Chairwoman Terry Cohen, her husband Don and board member Jean Klein

EAGLE COUNTY – In our ever more complicated world, we’re now being pushed to keep it simple. From magazines to TV shows, we’re encouraged to pare down to be happy.If “keep it simple” is the mantra, Habitat for Humanity has it down to an art. They do one thing – build houses for people who deserve them but can’t afford them.Their annual Carpenter’s Ball was held March 12, and the event kept to the mantra, too – simple, but effective.

In a valley where housing prices soar in the millions with many selling at or over full asking price, it’s more common than not for locals to scratch their heads and wonder how in the world they will gather the money just to make a down payment, let alone the mortgage payments.Habitat is one of the best “feel good” organizations around. From start to finish, it’s all about people helping people, and giving back skills and dollars to give someone a sense of pride. And few things develop a sense of pride more than owning a first home.Habitat’s Carpenter’s Ball had one goal – five in 2005. It’s a lofty goal to build and complete five homes for families who, under ordinary circumstances, would not be able to purchase. Heck, average home prices in February were $772,000!

Giving back With the group of people Habitat has in Eagle and Lake Counties, it doesn’t seem like that great a feat. Rob LeVine and his wife, Evelyn Pinney, are an example. With some land on their hands in Edwards, they decided to sell it to Habitat for an exceptionally reasonable price even though they could have turned it around for a lot more bucks.”We wanted to invest in our community,” said Pinney. “We sold a unit in Antlers and wanted to invest in Edwards. It’s part of our idea of giving back. We’ve both done well here and we feel fortunate. We’re also very aware of the housing issue.”

Name recognitionTerry Cohen, the event’s chair, knew how to keep the evening simple and flowing. In what appeared to be an effortless manner, guests were able to browse the auction, enjoy their cocktails and dinner and dance. Simplicity, of course, is directly proportionate to the hours she and her committee poured in up to and including that night. Speeches were brief and to the point, but then, there’s not much to be said with an organization that has the name recognition of Habitat for Humanity.

After a fabulous dinner served by the staff of the Park Hyatt in Beaver Creek, guests were treated to a live auction that, you got it, was simple and brief, but brought in some big dollars. Items included tickets and pit passes for NASCAR at the Texas Motor Speedway, an in-home dinner prepared by Rick Kangas, and a week in Cabo San Lucas. After the auction, Don Watson and his band, including the talented Beth Swearingen, performed. “It’s a wonderful organization that helps so much in our community,” Cohen said.

Thrift shopHabitat is breaking into the retail business this spring. Now open in Gypsum is a new retail outlet, the Habitat Home Supply Outlet, operated under the auspices of Habitat for Humanity of Eagle and Lake County. The store is a place to unload no longer needed items and to offer area homeowners a chance to pick up perfectly good items for 50 percent to 80 percent off. Not only will the materials be recycled, but the proceeds from the store will be returned to Habitat for Humanity.

The Eagle County Board of Commissioners helped by advancing the organization $30,000 in seed money, and the county also donated $37,500 toward the Habitat “Blitz Build” house project in Gypsum.The county’s contribution is issued from the Eagle County housing fund. Money in the Eagle County housing fund is used for down payment assistance and to provide workforce housing. Developers can choose to build affordable housing or make a payment in-lieu to the Housing Fund. “This is a celebration,” said Tom Healy, director of the local Habitat branch. “It takes about $100,000 to build a house with the donated services.”

In other words, if you’ve got the skills or the supplies, he’d love to hear from you.==========================================To Learn More

For more information on Habitat for Humanity, call 748-6718.==========================================

==========================================Heard at high altitude”My idea of a balanced diet is a cookie in each hand!”==========================================

Vail, Colorado

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