Habitat for Humanity announces first build day in Birch Bay

Julio Ortiz and his wife Juana Mendoza work on the site of their new home with volunteers. Photo courtesy of Habitat for Humanity in Whatcom County.

By Stefanie Donahue

Since receiving a permit in late September, volunteers with Habitat for Humanity in Whatcom County have rolled up their sleeves to prep for construction of a home at Leeside Drive in Birch Bay.

Formerly a dumping ground for old cars and garbage, the lot is now clear of debris and features a freshly poured concrete foundation. Project volunteers – including some from the international Habitat for Humanity program Women Build – will start building from the ground up on Saturday, January 7.

Julio Ortiz, his wife Juana Mendoza and their five kids will move into the home, which is slated for completion by the beginning of next school year. Ortiz supports his family as a general laborer and supervisor for on-site equipment at Clark’s Berry Farm in Lynden.

Since applying to become a Habitat for Humanity homeowner, Ortiz and his family have committed 500 hours of “sweat equity” with the organization by working on build sites and in the retail store, located at 1825 Cornwall Avenue in Bellingham.

The family also has to put down $500 on the home and is expected to pay about $350 per month on the mortgage. Habitat for Humanity finances the home at 0 percent interest.

Holly Harkener, publicist for the Habitat for Humanity in Whatcom County, said cold weather won’t get in the way of builders this year.

In alliance with Kulshan Community Land Trust, staff with the organization have acquired a warehouse in the Birchwood neighborhood in Bellingham to continue work at warmer
temperatures.

For those interested in lending a hand, Harkener recommends contacting volunteer coordinator Janet Straka by email at volunteer@hfhwhatcom.org or by phone at 360/715-9170 ext. 1016. Project updates and announcements are also being regularly posted to the Whatcom Women Build Facebook page.

“This is just one of many build days to come,” Harkener said.

To learn more about Habitat for Humanity in Whatcom County, visit hfhwhatcom.org.

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