By Michael Howell –
Ravalli County Habitat for Humanity celebrated the completion of its fifth home in the valley last week by turning over the keys to a new home on Cherry Street in Hamilton to Travis Sanderson and his family.
Ravalli County HFH is a locally run affiliate of Habitat for Humanity International, a nonprofit ecumenical Christian housing organization. The organization’s mission is to build simple, decent and affordable homes in partnership with those in need. They sell houses to families at no profit, through interest-free loans.
Volunteers provide most of the labor, and individual and corporate donors provide money and materials to build Habitat houses. Partner families themselves invest hundreds of hours of labor – “sweat equity” – into building their homes and the homes of others. Their mortgage payments go into a revolving Fund for Humanity that is used to build more houses. In this case Vanessa put in most of the labor hours as her husband Travis was mostly occupied with his trucking job.
The Sandersons both grew up in the Bitterroot Valley. Travis works for Swift, trucking supplies for one of their clients, Costco. He and Vanessa have three children, Kalhan (7), Jazmyn (6), and Gabriel (1). The Sandersons are happy to be moving out of inadequate circumstances. Their previous home was cramped, poorly insulated and the rent payment took up a substantial portion of their income, more than their Habitat mortgage will.
The day they were told they had been selected as the next partner family, Travis said, “It feels like a ton of bricks came off of me. This is coming from a truck driver that is away from home. I don’t have to worry about my family. They will be in a safe house.”
Much of the materials for Habitat for Humanity is donated. The list of contributors in this case is very long indeed and the contributions are substantial. In this case a set of solar panels costing about $17,500 was donated to provide electricity to the house and to offset the cost of regular electrical use when the system can’t meet the entire demand. According to Dan Brandborg of Sustainable Business Systems, Inc. of Missoula, whose company along with a major contribution from Northwest Energy helped make the project possible, the Sandersons could find their heating bills drop from the $350 per month bill in their previous accommodations to around $80 per month in their new home.
All money to build Habitat for Humanity homes in Ravalli County is raised locally. There are no paid staff members. Habitat for Humanity is dependent upon the support of community volunteers for its success. For more information, visit RavalliHabitat.org or call 375-1926.