Brittni Curl and her 2-year-old son, Brantlee, took different approaches to settling into their new home in the Lewiston Orchards.
Brittni spoke with well-wishers and thanked members of L-C Valley Habitat for Humanity, the group that helped the family of two afford the two-bedroom, one-bathroom house. Brantlee, wearing light-up sneakers that blinked and flashed with every step on the gleaming hardwood floors, spread his arms and ran through the living room and kitchen imitating a bird, a plane or perhaps Superman himself.
“Who knows?” said his mom. “He’s just a boy, he’s all boy.”
The youngster will have a safe and stable place to grow up. That hit home as Curl made brief remarks broadcast on Facebook Live during a dedication ceremony in which she received keys to the green house with white trim that sits on a corner lot.
Curl is a full-time student studying health information technology at Walla Walla Community College who also works full time at Tri-State Clearwater Medical Clinic in Lewiston and part time at Maurices, a women’s clothing store at the Lewiston Center Mall. She had been living in an expensive two-bedroom apartment where she worried about the inefficient baseboard heaters potentially burning Brantlee.
“Thank you for making this possible for my son Brantlee and I,” she said while her voice cracked with emotion. “I don’t have to worry about his safety anymore and we just can’t wait to move in. Thank you guys.”
It was the 34th time the local chapter of the nonprofit, faith-based organization has helped a family purchase its first home. Such ceremonies are generally attended by dozens of people — friends and family of the new homeowners and a slew of Habitat for Humanity volunteers. But Thursday’s ceremony was kept low-key on purpose because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Deb Snyder, executive director of L-C Valley Habitat for Humanity, offered brief remarks. Habitat board member Sunshine Siebert, who is a branch manager for Wells Fargo and served as a loan officer for Curl, handed her the keys and said “welcome home.” And Teresa Martin, pastor of the LifeCenter Foursquare Church of Clarkston, blessed the dwelling.
“Bless each person coming and going that they feel the comfort, the blessing and the warmth of this home,” she said.
Snyder noted that while homes have always served as havens, in the past year that role has grown substantially.
“Today many of us find ourselves spending more time than ever at home and due to the pandemic our homes have become more important than ever,” she said. “Today our homes are where we work, they are our restaurants, our movie theaters, they are even our places of worship.”
The organization connects with low- to moderate-income people for whom homeownership might otherwise be unattainable. The homes are constructed with volunteer labor and offered without interest. Purchasers must provide at least 350 hours of volunteer labor, save a downpayment and attend classes and workshops to introduce them to homeownership.
“It’s exciting to be able to make homeownership possible for people who may not be able to afford a fair-market-value home,” said Snyder. “But through Habitat and the ability to provide a zero-interest-based loan and to work with volunteers we make that dream a reality for qualified applicants.”
The L-C Chapter of the group was started in 1991. The international organization dates back to 1976 and counts former President Jimmy Carter and first lady Rosalynn Carter as its most well-known volunteers.
According to the group’s website, it operates in all 50 states, more than 70 countries around the globe and “has helped more than 35 million people achieve strength, stability and independence through safe, decent and affordable shelter.”
Following the ceremony, Curl greeted a few friends who stopped by to offer congratulations and then said she and Brantlee would welcome the new year by “upacking my house.”
Barker may be contacted at email@example.com or at (208) 848-2273. Follow him on Twitter @ezebarker.