Our Newest Family
Greg Tuttle, a five year U.S. Air Force veteran who is a single father with a seven-year-old son and a ten-year-old daughter who now share a bedroom in their apartment. Greg is a Conway resident and currently employed by Jesse E. Lyman Heating Oil and Heating Service, Inc.. Greg has already started earning hours toward his 300 sweat equity hour obligation and soon will be enrolling in the NH AHEAD (Affordable Housing Education and Development) program which will provide instruction in home ownership, maintenance and financial management.
Evan and Deni-Rebecca Shangraw and Their Son Oaken
Long time residents of Tamworth, Deni and Evan are ecstatic that they have been chosen for one of the Habitat lots in the Sokokis Pines area of Tamworth. Evan is employed by NAPA in Ossipee and on the side does landscaping work in the summer months. Deni now dedicates her time as a homemaker and full time mom, but will in the future return as a ski equipment tech at the King Pine ski facility.
As a young family starting out, Deni recognized that they were going to have to have something other than a one-bedroom apartment to raise a family. She also knew the importance of establishing roots in an area they cherished and in which they worked. Not having experienced home ownership growing up as a child, Evan too recognizes its importance.
Once they made the decision to look into acquiring a Habitat house, it was Evan’s boss who knows Dan Osetek, MWV Habitat Board President, who made the initial inquiry. Deni remarked how easy the application process was and how helpful Bob Magoun, chairman of the Family Selection Committee was in explaining the requirements and steps to be taken.
Already the two are earning their required sweat equity hours as both volunteered time at Indoor Yard Sales, construction at Grison Rd and now on their own house at 253 Silver Pines Ln. Both are excited that this house has been chosen for solar panels and radiant floor heating.
John and Kelly Arruda! (Pictured signing their acceptance letter for the house being constructed on Grison Road in Madison).
For John and Kelly Arruda, the pathway to a new house had been long and arduous The application process started two years ago when a friend of the Arrudas, who was quite familiar with Habitat, told them about the application opening announcement on the MWVHfH Facebook page. Both John and Kelly love Madison, and when Bob Magoun, Habitat Family Selection committee chairman, told them they had a choice of getting a unit on North Road in the near time frame, or could wait for a year for the house being build on Grison Rd. in Madison, the decision was easy. However, the wait was not. A series of unfortunate incidents combined to force the Arrudas to put the application on hold. But Kelly, who originally hailed from Kansas City, Missouri remembered instability in her life as her father’s job promotions caused quite a few moves around the country. That memory allowed her to keep her focus and with Bob Magoun’s assistance and mentoring, she knew it was just a matter of time before they were finally approved and would sign their acceptance letter. Kelly allowed that the wait was actually beneficial as it allowed them to reassess their goals, put stability back into their lives and get their financial house back in order. It was interesting that as Bob was helping the Arrudas during this time, John was able to help Habitat in his capacity as a department manager at Lowes. He was there to answer logistical and supply problems as well as take care of some paint coloring glitches for the units on North Road. Bob remarked later that Lowes was fortunate to have him as an employee and manager. Both Kelly and John remarked several weeks ago that making the $250.00 deposit and signing the acceptance letter (see photo) was a special moment, but when they can provide a permanent home for their children, Andrew and Kassidy, it will be even more special.
Meet Sue Derouin and her daughter Alexa!!!
Sue is a life-long resident of Mt. Washington Valley except for the four years she attended Harding University in Arkansas where she earned a bachelor’s degree in Business Marketing.
There was never any doubt about returning to the Valley – this was home. But there wasn’t a large demand for a marketing degree in an area dominated by the hospitality business, and at a time when the economy was soft. While she fortunately didn’t have difficulty finding good employment, it still did not allow her to purchase an affordable and secure home on a single income. Like the Red Sox eighty-six year World Series drought, this was an “Impossible Dream”.
She recalls one incident that made her more determined than ever to do something about her situation. She had answered a rental ad for a two-bedroom apartment. During the discussion with the landlord she mentioned that she was a single mother. Suddenly the apartment was no longer available! “That did it,” she said, “I’m simply not going to stand by – I will show them I can make it!”
It turns out that a close friend, Melanie Gove told Sue about her own good fortune having been chosen for one of the homes in the North Road condominium complex – why didn’t she apply? By her own admission, Sue was hesitant – this represented a big jump. However, once she thought through the fact that her mortgage payment would be far less than what she was paying for rent, that her daughter Alexa would be in a safe and stable environment, that Alexa would be going to the same school and living next to her friends, Sue decided to take the leap and apply with Habitat.
She met the financial requirements, certainly was a resident for a year or more, had no problem agreeing to the requirement to partner with Habitat, and definitely had a demonstrable need, but there would be competition. After a long agonizing wait, her “Impossible Dream” came true.
Selectees must put in 300 sweat equity hours, participating with the construction process, a third of which can be donated by friends and family. Her father, Ken Fecteau, well known and respected plumber in the area, has contributed greatly, as has her mother, Linda who has provided numerous meals for the construction site volunteers. It is obvious that Sue is well liked and respected from the number of friends who have also showed up to help. As Sue said, “I am very fortunate and look forward to when I can give back!”
Meet Melanie Gove’s Family!!
Meet the third family to be selected for the four-unit condominium being constructed by the MWV Habitat for Humanity Affiliate on North Road. Melanie Gove and her three daughters, Brynne, Maya and Carys, were selected this spring, not only to her delight, but to that of her family, friends and others who encouraged her not to give up in the selection process. You see, Melanie had been turned down some time ago as she did not meet one of the qualifications. But “giving up” is not part of her vernacular and something she constantly instills in her children. She reminds them that by working hard and “keep doing what you are doing” will pay dividends in the long run.
She also teaches them the value of “giving back” and helping others. She has strongly embraced the mission of Kiwanis, “serving the children of the world.” She and her daughters volunteer at Angels and Elves during the Christmas season. Her older daughters are K-Kids at Conway Elementary, embracing the rewards of community service.
Melanie has lived in the Valley for 15 years, but stability in her life and that of her children has been lacking; a reason for applying to Habitat for a decent and affordable home that can provide that stability for her daughters. As part of the selection process an applicant must agree to contribute 300 hours of “sweat equity” of which 100 hours can be donated by relatives, friends and/or an organization. She can be seen at the North Road construction site on Thursdays working on the very unit that will be her home; or recently having volunteered at the Habitat indoor yard sale, along with MWV Kiwanians who were volunteering “sweat equity” hours in her behalf.
Melanie is quick to recognize and thank her father, Dick Nellson, for all the support and encouragement he has given her – “whenever I was down, he was there, constantly reminding me, as I remind my children, what you put in is what you get out.” Pictured in the photo is Melanie with her three daughters and Melanie’s father at the Women’s Build Day this summer.
Meet the Swan Family!
Maybe this story started when Nicholas Swan was 10 years old, living in Chocorua when he noticed a house being constructed nearby by Habitat For Humanity. Of course, at that age he had no idea what Habitat was all about, but it made enough of an impression that he remembered the Habitat sign and the name for many years after.
Now flash forward to 2013. Nick is married. He and his wife Stephanie have three children living with them. Both are life-long residents of Mount Washington Valley. Nick is currently active in the National Guard and has served a tour in Iraq with the U.S. Army. He is manager of Journeys Store in Settlers’ Green Outlet Village, and that is where our story picks up.
The MWV Habitat office is also in Settlers’ Green; the Habitat sign bringing back memories for Nick. He and Stephanie have moved a lot during their respective lives and have long dreamed owning their own home where they could attain stability and security for their family. They are living in a small two-bedroom basement apartment that is obviously over-crowded. A couple of basement windows provide very little natural light.
But given local housing costs, the idea of owning their own home seemed very remote. Nevertheless, Nick visited the Habitat office to learn more about the organization and to find out if by any chance he and Stephanie qualified for a new home.
Answering the initial questions, he was very encouraged that he might qualify. Was his annual income between $25,000 and $42,000?
Has he lived or worked in Mt. Washington Valley for a year?
Was he willing to contribute 300 hours of sweat equity?
Answering “yes” to each, he then started the application process. In addition to the aforementioned questions, the Swans had to demonstrate a housing need; agree to participate in training sessions designed to help develop skills in home ownership (budgeting, home maintenance, repair); able to pay about $1,800 in closing costs, $250 of which would be due as the only down payment at time of acceptance. The over-arching criteria being a capability and willingness to partner with Habitat to make home ownership happen.
The acceptance process wasn’t terribly lengthy.
The Swans submitted their application in the fall of 2013. By April they were told their application had been accepted and they were eligible to receive an interest free 30 year mortgage for Unit C at 42 North Road in Conway. Unit C of the four-unit condominium complex is currently under construction by Habitat volunteers who work at the site on Thursdays from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.. Nick can be seen at the site along with a family support network that is contributing toward the 300 hours of required sweat equity.
In the not too distant future, Nick and Stephanie will have their own home. In 1995, a family moved into the first home completed by MWV Habitat. To date, four homes have been remodeled and sold to families and a total of 12 homes have been constructed; 11 on Robert Morrell Dr. in Conway and one in Fryeburg.
Meet Damon and Deborah Reuning
Damon and Deborah Reuning had rented in Conway for 11 years. While starting a business, raising a family of three children, and going back to school, the couple always dreamed of owning their own home. Then an associate at Deborah’s part time job referred her to Habitat. She had heard about the organization, she but thought it was a hand out.
After meeting with members of the Family Selection Committee, they realized they could improve their housing in a quality home in a great neighborhood at the same monthly cost! They applied and were selected to own a new home in the eleven home neighborhood that Habitat for Humanity was building on Robert Morrell Drive in Conway.
Both of them jumped enthusiastically into the program that requires 300 hundred hours of sweat equity and participation in financial planning classes. Being part of building their home meant more than the physical effort. It was a labor of love knowing they were building a future. Both of them are longtime residents of the Mt. Washington Valley, so keeping their roots in the community was important. In fact, Damon grew up near Robert Morrell Drive and played in woods that later would be his family’s home!
Four years later, the couple spoke about what owning a home has meant to them and their children. With the other residents who shared the same experience, they live in a great neighborhood. They have made good friends and built a community that supports each other. There have been neighborhood parties plus game and movie nights. They watch each other’s children and the houses on the street.
They also have learned about giving back. Whether helping at Habitat Yard Sales or Women’s Build, both Damon and Deborah understand and appreciate the value of volunteering. They know first-hand and appreciate what it takes to work for something and the satisfaction of securing their future.
We are pleased to announce Ken and Kate Fowler have been selected as the future homeowners of Unit 1 in the North Road Condominiums. The couple are “natives” as they were both born in Memorial Hospital. Kate attended Pine Tree Elementary School and Ken was raised in Madison. A graduate of the University of New England in Saco, ME, Kate is presently employed as the teacher in the Bartlett Pre-School. Ken works in retail in N. Conway. They are the proud parents of two sons, Matthew age 4 and Cullen five months old.
They are already working alongside the Habitat volunteers in the construction of their new home. When completed they will purchase the home, at cost, and be granted a “no interest” Habitat mortgage.
In March 2012, the Family Selection Committee consisting of community members Betsy Harding and Dave Hovey and Habitat board members Bob Magoun and Dan Osetek were tasked with finding the next Habitat for Humanity homeowner.
After the Family Selection Committee did its work, Christy Berry from Fryeburg was chosen as the next owner of a Habitat house. Christy is employed as a medical biller for Major Medical Billing in Conway and also works as a server at the 302 Smokehouse in Fryeburg. Christy has 2 daughters, Nora, 14 and Natalie, 5. Both daughters are enrolled in the Fryeburg school system.
Christy, along with her family and friends, will work to earn her “sweat equity” hours, which will ultimately help construct this new house. Please join us in congratulating Christy as she and MWV Habitat for Humanity build another place for a family to call home.
In 2011 Nicole and Will Hardin moved into their home on Robert Morrell Drive in Conway. The couple had been renting in Madison, but their dream was to provide an affordable and safe home to raise their children. While they both had good jobs, they believed they would not be able to own a home for years because of the cost. The Hardin’s applied and qualified! Working with Habitat volunteers their new home was built.
When asked what owning a home has meant, the couple proudly spoke about having the stability they wanted for their children to stay in the same school system and build friendships in the same neighborhood. Without the concern of increasing rent or the landlord selling the property, they enjoy the freedom to improve and maintain their home with skills acquired during construction.
Financially, their mortgage and utilities have decreased 20% from what they paid when they rented. They know they are building their financial future because the major portion of their total monthly housing expense is fixed for the next 30 years. Also, they are implementing lessons learned from attending a series of classes offered by Northway Bank on budgeting, financial management, and home ownership.
However, the most meaningful aspect of owning their home was celebrating their first Christmas in their new home, just two weeks after moving into the house. Knowing that their children will have Christmas in the same home for years made what is already a special time into something the whole family cherishes and remembers.