Whidbey familly anxiously awaiting Habitat for Humanity home

A new house implausibly constructed in less than three weeks will soon be transformed into a home.

The Fassett/Wolniakowksi family excitedly counted the days until Saturday’s dedication ceremony for their new domicile, Habitat for Humanity of Island County’s newest project in Northgate Terrace. And they did not have to count very high.

Habitat affiliates around the country recently participated in the “2008 Builder’s Blitz,” an event that saw at least 263 homes substantially built in seven days, two of them on Whidbey Island.

The volunteer hands that came together and the selfless donors that kept materials in those hands carefully and expeditiously built a product that will allow the grateful family to start a new life. And every porous piece of the structure is saturated with altruism and love.

Barbara Fassett and two of her three daughters, Brittney and Cristey, stood reverently at the Hunter Lane building site Saturday as Habitat affiliate president Jim Smith and Karan Reed, executive director of Habitat for Humanity of Island County, officially consecrated the house. Ashley, the oldest daughter, was unable to attend the ceremony.

“May this dwelling be a blessing to the Fassett/Wolniakowksi family, just as building it has been a blessing to all who contributed in bringing it to fruition,” Reed said.

Family sponsor Melissa McCumber and family support chair Jan Hayes effusively heaped praise on the contractor team, committees and workers. One box of Kleenex would not have gone very far in the group of more than 30 people.

Skagit and Island County Builders Association took on the construction project. SICBA President Scott Yonkman and his brother Greg, partners in Yonkman Construction Inc., not only synchronized the lineup of contractors and sub-contractors, but secured crucial donations of labor and materials

“Habitat for Humanity International gave us an opportunity to help bring hope to others,” said Scott Yonkman. “By the labor of our hands united and the regard we have for our neighbors, we have turned that opportunity into the home we see here today.”

The new house also has the distinction of bearing the Certified Green logo, a first for the local Habitat affiliate. The certification can only be obtained by structures achieving certain environmental benchmarks.

“Not only is this painted green, it’s built green,” Reed quipped.

Steve Gulliford, the executive director of Housing Authority of Island County, is also the president of Saratoga Community Housing, one of the few organizations in Island County focusing on affordable housing. Formed a year ago, Saratoga places properties in the land trust.

“This is the first one,” Gulliford said Saturday to an eruption of applause.

Yonkman said that SICBA has been trying to address the lack of affordable housing in both counties. Habitat provided a perfect start.

“This was a great opportunity for us to practice what we preach,” he said.

Van Bowling, minister of music at Christ the King Community Church in Anacortes, lent support to the family through the emotionally stirring song, “All of My Days.”

By the time Barb received her new keys, it became apparent that a conspiracy was afoot to make her cry. Somehow holding it together, the mother said the entire Habitat process brought the family closer while helping with the healing process. And the prospect of an affordable, three bedroom, 1,160-square-foot house also got the pulses racing.

“This is the first time I’ve had my own room,” Barb said. “I’m going to cherish every square inch.”

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