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Habitat celebrates site dedication

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SNOQUALMIE _ Habitat for Humanity of East King County may

have an office in Redmond, and it may build homes for low- to mid-income

families all over the Eastside, but its heart lies in the Snoqualmie Valley.

Chartered in 1988, the original name of the organization

was Snoqualmie Valley Habitat for Humanity, and come next summer, it

will return to its roots by building 20 homes in a two-week period

on Snoqualmie Ridge's Parcel Y.

Last week, on Nov. 29, Habitat for Humanity officially dedicated its

50-acre site. Members of the non-profit group gathered at the Home

Finding Center on Snoqualmie Ridge with representatives of the city of

Snoqualmie, Weyerhaeuser Real Estate Co., representatives from area businesses

and families that have been selected to move into a new Habitat home. It

was a time to remember the past, and look forward to the future.

Habitat for Humanity Executive Director David McDaniels said

12 years after the organization's creation, one thing has remained

unchanged about its efforts.

"One of the most pressing problems in our community is the need

for affordable housing," he said.

To help meet those needs, Habitat for Humanity will begin a

massive "blitz build" next August.

Twenty homes will be erected in two weeks by volunteers from near and far. In

all, 50 homes will be built on the site. Work on constructing a

community center will begin this year, and presently, committees are being formed

to organize next year's blitz build.

One of the organization's founders, Bob Patterson, mayor of

the city of Carnation, said he's amazed at how Habitat for Humanity has

grown over the years.

"When I think about it, it boggles my mind," he said. "I never

would have dreamed it."

Patterson said Habitat for Humanity of East King County received

its charter in 1988 in Atlanta before the international organization's

president and co-founder, Millard Fuller, and former President Jimmy Carter.

The local group, centered in Carnation, had $3,000 in the bank and the

willingness to work hard so its goals could be realized.

"We started small in the Valley; probably our first meetings

were around a kitchen table," he said.

Two years after its inception, the then Snoqualmie Valley Habitat

for Humanity, built its first home in Carnation. But the group noticed that

the donations it was receiving were coming from all over the Eastside, not

just the Valley.

Members of the organization decided to expand their scope and

provide housing for communities east of Seattle. They rented office space

in Redmond and changed the name to Habitat for Humanity of East

King County.

As Habitat for Humanity grew, so did its projects. Volunteers built

one home in Bellevue. They added two more in Issaquah. Then a

property owner donated one lot in Kirkland.

Two years ago, the organization built 10 more homes in Bellevue. It

is in the middle of constructing 12 homes in Newport, and 24 more

will be built in Redmond this spring.

But its largest challenge so far is the 50 home project on

Snoqualmie Ridge. McDaniels predicted it would be "perhaps one of the biggest

volunteer efforts in the region."

At the site dedication and celebration, Habitat for Humanity

honored the city of Snoqualmie and Weyerhaeuser for their efforts in

making the Snoqualmie Ridge site a reality. McDaniels also handed

out plaques to business representatives who have volunteered their

services toward the project.

Several families that were approved to live at the site were also

on hand to introduce themselves and thank those who volunteered their

time and money. As part of the qualifications for being approved for a

home, families will provide 500 hours of "sweat-equity" work, which can

encompass working in Habitat for Humanity's Redmond office,

volunteering at other project sites, or pounding nails into their own home

next summer.

At the site dedication, McDaniels said that in order to make

the Snoqualmie Ridge project a success, it requires the teamwork of

everyone involved.

"Habitat would not be Habitat, could not be Habitat, without

the people in this room," he said.

Patterson said much of the work, such as building a road and

connecting utilities, has already taken place at the site. He encouraged those

attending the dedication to envision what the site will look like in three

to four years, when 50 families will make Parcel Y on Snoqualmie Ridge

their home.

"Have faith, it will happen," he said.

Those who would like to volunteer to help organize next

summer's "blitz build" can call Habitat for Humanity of East

King County Planning Coordinator Tom Donnelly at (425) 828-4009, or

e-mail habitat@habitatekc.org.

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