Habitat for Humanity West Hawaii is the main sponsor of the “Blitz Build,” which means they plan to build five homes in ten days. And they’re asking for community members with all kinds of skills, or no building skills at all, to help. The “Blitz Build” is set for September 12 through 22. The homes are going to be at the Villages at Lai Opua, right across from Kealakehe High School. All five will be three bedroom, two bath dwellings. The families who will live in them all have struggled and will finally get homes of their own.
Habitat for Humanity is a nationwide nonprofit organization that is known for its hand up, not hand out, program. They assist low income families with getting homes they would otherwise not be able to afford. Habitat helps build the home, and then they finance the mortgage the family will then pay back. Habitat also relies heavily on volunteer support and cash donations from organizations and individuals.
The Rotary Club of Kona, Rotary Club of Kona Sunrise and Rotary Club of Kona Mauka recently presented Habitat for Humanity West Hawaii a $20,000 down payment check for the upcoming La’i Opua Blitz Build. They’ve agreed to donate $85,000. First Hawaiian Bank is sponsoring a home, and KTA Superstores has made a generous donation.
The out-of-pocket total cost to Habitat for each home is around $110,000, but that amount is reduced by in-kind donations. HPM and Mike Fujimoto, their President, are donating the trusses. Appliances are coming from Whirlpool, and both Lowes and Home Depot are assisting with manpower and in-kind donations.
Habitat still needs community volunteers to help. Around 100 volunteers are coming from the mainland, from Florida, Minnesota, Arizona, and other places, as part of a “Blitz Build” project work group that travels around assisting with Blitz Build projects. But with a ten-day project, Habitat is looking for around 300 volunteers. They want skilled tradespeople on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, September 13 through 15, but also need people who can do less skilled work such as painting, caulking, site cleanup, and more. They also need people to handle food and water, medical assistance, and volunteer support.
Community members are also invited to the blessing, on Wednesday, September 12 at 5:30 at the site, across from the entrance to Kealakehe High School.
“Our mission is to empower families, build community and hope through home ownership for low income partner families. We are thankful for community support and partners like our local Rotary clubs who are helping to see that West Hawaii families have safe, decent and affordable housing,” said Habitat for Humanity West Hawaii Board President Paul Horner.
Tom Whittemore, longtime community volunteer, is leading the project. He says the County of Hawaii and all of Mayor Billy Kenoi’s Department Heads have been extremely helpful in getting the project approved in a timely fashion and in setting up inspection dates to accommodate the fast pace of the Blitz Build. He also emphasized that although Habitat’s name is on the project—it really is the community that will share in the success of this effort to get five families on their feet.
To volunteer or donate cash or materials, call Habitat at 331-8010 or go online, www.habitatwesthawaii.org.
You may listen to a thirty-minute talk story with Tom Whittemore and Patrick Hurney, Executive Director of Habitat for Humanity, here at www.bigislandnewscenter.com–the interview is posted to the right on the home page, down in the middle under the Island Issues segments.