August 14, 2011

In 2010, Melanie unexpectedly inherited a home in Kekaha from a family member. The home had been unoccupied for a long time and was in great disrepair. The roof leaked, there were holes in walls, the kitchen needed to be totally gutted, and all flooring needed to be replaced. The exterior too needed complete repainting.

Melanie had never thought that one day she might own her own home. She was overwhelmed with gratitude to have inherited the home, but was challenged by the scope of repairs needed before she could occupy it. She had heard of Kaua`i Habitat for Humanity and stopped by their office to see if we could help.

As it happened, Kaua`i Habitat was just beginning to consider adding a repair and renovation component to its services. It made a lot of sense to help low-income Kaua`i homeowners repair leaky roofs, add wheelchair ramps, fix sagging floors and other items of major repair. They knew they could help more Kaua`i families and keep more homes from falling into major disrepair.

Melanie entered into a partnership with Kaua`i Habitat, and together she, Habitat, her family and community began to undertake all the major repairs. The partnership with Habitat meant she could undertake a renovation of her home, participate in the repairs herself, and manage the expense of it with a zero-interest loan. She astounded everyone with the number of volunteers she was able to gather around her to help. Some were neighbors, some were `ohana, and one particular volunteer had his own life changed for the better because he came forward in honesty and with a heart to serve.

Habitat volunteers from near and far played a big role in the renovation of Melanie’s home. Global Village teams tackled the walls while local workers re-shingled the roof. Melanie worked alongside all of them in awe and gratitude for what they accomplished together.

In a few short months, Melanie’s home was ready. In addition to all repairs and structural improvements, Melanie’s home has new energy efficient appliances, a solar hot water heater, and a refurbished computer.

Melanie also undertook homebuyer education classes with excitement and commitment. She learned about her responsibilities as a homeowner with a mortgage and the importance of house maintenance and managing debt and credit.

As Melanie prepares to move into her freshly painted and restored home, she has reflected upon all the circumstances and all the help that brought her here to the threshold of her new home. “It was a long process and not an easy one,” said Melanie. “But I did not give up!” It was with profound gratitude that on Sunday, August 14, 2011 she accepted the keys to her new home, a bible and an orchid plant from Kaua`i Habitat Executive Director Stephen Spears. “Melanie was an exemplary partner to work with,” said Spears. “With equal portions of patience and gratitude, she helped us to work out the parameters of a new program of repairs and renovations that we can offer to the Kaua`i community. It is truly a privilege to be involved in the lives of our partner families in such a profound way.”