I will never forget the first Habitat Home Dedication I went to. My friend, Robin Cooper Engle, invited me to attend and while all dedications are special, this was a huge milestone for the Bend Area Habitat for Humanity. It was the dedication for their 100th home! It was a chilly day in November 2012. As I headed to the home site on Bend’s eastside, I reflected on how much my home town (yes, I’m a local!) had grown and changed over the years. The effects of the recession on housing in our area were evident everywhere; half developed subdivisions and foreclosure signs marked my drive across town.
Truthfully, I had no idea what to expect when I arrived. As I walked up to the home site, I saw a crowd of over a hundred people and I could sense excitement in the air. There was a tent set up with heaters, warm coffee and food and several representatives from the local media. I milled about chatting with my fellow attendees, some of whom were also new to the Habitat scene, others who had been volunteers for years.
The dedication ceremony officially kicked off with a welcome from Habitat’s Executive Director. We heard from local contractors and volunteers who had built the home. We heard from the family services director who outlined how much time and energy the new homeowner had put into the process. We all participated in a blessing of the home lead by a local pastor. And then we heard from the single mother and her daughter who were about to receive the keys to their brand new home. My thoughts flashed to my own daughter (who was one-and-a-half at the time) and I realized that I had taken the importance my safe, secure and affordable home for granted. It was at that moment that the magnitude of what Bend Area Habitat for Humanity is doing in our community hit me. One family at a time, they are matching some of the most deserving members of our community with truly affordable housing. I joined Habitat’s Community Fundraising Committee that day.
Fast forward 6 years – Bend Area Habitat just broke ground on their 127th home. Bend’s housing market has rebounded, however, affordable housing is one of the most important issues facing this incredible community. As far as my Habitat Story goes, after 6 years of helping with fundraising, I decided to take my involvement to the next level and joined the Board of Directors this last January. While my knowledge of what Habitat does has grown over the years (Global Build Trips, The ReStore, reclamation, homeowner education, family mentorship, woman build, charity golf tournaments and more!) what continues to drive me to stay involved is the culmination of the process, at a home dedication, when a family sets foot in their very own home for the first time.
by Kate Shanley- Habitat Board member and Managing Director, Coachwell, Inc.