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New roofs over their heads

Workers put the finishing touches on two new Habitat for Humanity homes on Parkview Drive in Fort Ward. - Jesse Beals / Staff Writer
Workers put the finishing touches on two new Habitat for Humanity homes on Parkview Drive in Fort Ward.
— image credit: Jesse Beals / Staff Writer

Islanders help two families make homes on the south end.

If home truly is where the heart is, then two Habitat for Humanity houses to be dedicated at Fort Ward this weekend will have little room for furniture.

The residences – built by a cadre of volunteers that included a team of dentists, a corps of attorneys and a supporting cast of island and off-island helpers – represent a heart-felt investment of elbow grease.

“Basically it’s just been a wonderful process,” said island dentist Sally Hewett, who helped organize the project. “I am so appreciative of the people who just love to come out and do construction for fun and recreation.

“There were no prima donnas. People were willing to do any kind of work.”

Habitat for Humanity purchased the two lots at the island’s south end, plus another in Hidden Cove, in January of 2002.

The $60,000 per lot was funded by the Kitsap County Community Development Bloc Grant program, plus contributions from the Bainbridge Island Housing Trust Fund and the Windermere Foundation.

The families moving in pay a zero interest 20-year mortgage based on materials and a portion of the land.

Hewett’s team, dubbed Dentists and Friends, and a cadre of lawyers called the Gavel and Hammer Society and led by island attorney Charlie Wiggins, each sponsored one of the south-island homes, raising the $45,000 per house for construction. Rolling Bay Presbyterian Church took charge of the north-island site.

April 2002 saw groundbreaking at the adjacent Fort Ward lots. Construction permits were approved in early June and concrete work completed by the end of August. Framing and roofing were fall and early winter 2002 projects, while siding, shingles and porch extended into spring.

Sheetrock and painting were completed by mid-summer, and cabinetry, appliances, fixtures, carpet and landscaping marked the homes’ completion this fall.

Job training

Hewett admits she had “no idea” of the project’s scope at the outset, and found last February’s knee-deep mud a particularly memorable challenge.

But project manager Dan Nordmark’s positive attitude helped keep construction on track, she says.

Nordmark, a retired Boeing engineer who spent two days a week on the south-island job site and a third day at Hidden Cove, says building Habitat homes has become a second job - one he will continue with more building in Kingston, Suquamish and possibly on the island.

“I’ve threatened to go back to work to get a vacation,” he said.

Nordmark has become expert at organizing the ad hoc groups of workers who might show up on any given day, groups that could include anyone from high school students doing a community service assignment to citizens nabbed for a DUI.

“There’s nothing like having a bunch of painters show up for a carpentry project,” Nordmark said, “This is an on-the-job training program, too.”

Several families, including the Gendreaus and the Guterson-Crichton clan, made building a part of nearly every weekend.

Hewett picked up a few new skills, she says, including hanging doors and installing baseboard trim and formica.

Woodward eighth-grader Lucie Gendreau, who worked on the houses every week last summer, says she also learned new skills – sometimes the hard way.

“Painting has been one of the most fun things because I wasn’t that good at it before, but when you work on someone else’s things you have to be really careful,” she said. “Whenever I made a mistake it was like, ‘Oh, no, I hope they don’t see this.’

“Now it’s pretty amazing, and in a way it’s a relief because you can see it finally done.”

Wiggins now counts among his skills such non-lawyerly assets as pouring concrete and bending rebar.

“I really enjoyed the physical aspect of the work,” he said. “I don’t know that I’ve ever done anything I feel so good about before.”

For new homeowners Kathy Duprey and Gaylynn Dearden, the Sept. 14 dedication also marks the end of a long road that began with hundreds of hours spent helping other Habitat families build.

“It’s going to be great to to enjoy the end product as much as I’ve enjoyed meeting all the people,” Duprey said. “I’ll always think of them as folks who helped me reach my goal.”

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Habitat for Humanity of Kitsap County dedicates homes at 2 p.m. Sept. 14, at 1810 and 1766 Parkview Drive in Fort Ward. Information: 855-8083.

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