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

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.

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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.