Habitat project in Birch Bay nears completion

Volunteers work at the Leeside Drive property. Photo courtesy of Habitat for Humanity

By Stefanie Donahue

Just a few months ago, folks with Habitat for Humanity in Whatcom County were giddy with excitement to announce the first build day at a property on Leeside Drive in Birch Bay. Thanks to the help of volunteers, a local family of seven is likely to move into their new home in just a matter of months – well ahead of schedule.

“Remember when I said we were hoping to get the family in by the time school starts again in the fall? Yeah, that’s definitely going to happen,” said Habitat for Humanity in Whatcom County publicist Holly Harkener in an email. “They’ll be in before school’s even out this summer, most likely.”

Julio Ortiz, his wife Juana Mendoza and their five kids had to wait nearly four years to receive a permit to start construction on the property. Before they put hammer to nail, the family completed 500 hours of labor at the organization by assisting at stores or on local builds.

Families who participate in the program are required to put down $500 on the home, which is purchased from Habitat for Humanity at cost. The organization finances the home loan at 0 percent interest.

So far, staff and volunteers have constructed the foundation, structure and roof of the home, Harkener said. This week, they’ll begin installing siding.

If you’re interested in lending a hand, Habitat for Humanity in Whatcom County is hosting a Build Community Day from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, April 8 at the property on 7535 Leeside Drive.

Volunteers will help with cleanup and other small projects throughout the surrounding neighborhood. The event is sponsored by the Whatcom Community Foundation’s Project Neighborly and offers a catered lunch from Paso Del Norte as well as a Q&A with executive director John Moon.

To participate, call 360/715-9170 ext. 1016 or volunteer@hfhwhatcom.org. To learn more about Habitat for Humanity in Whatcom County, visit hfhwhatcom.org.

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