News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

Habitat for Humanity honors volunteers

About 100 volunteers, staff, and supporters of Sisters Habitat for Humanity gathered last Wednesday in Village Green for the 2021 Presidential Service Awards ceremony. Accompanied by a barbecue and festive dinner, 51 volunteers were merited with Bronze recognition, 23 earned Silver status, and five were honored with Gold achievement.

In 2020, 198 volunteers contributed 23,127 hours serving on committees, staffing the stores, helping in the office, or working on construction sites.

Debra Lajko, Bob Lawton, Bev McKay, Cathy Sewall, and Jerry Wallace joined the 1,000-Hour Club. Lynn Jones, Marsha Lewis, Dennis Mills, John Milne, and Paula Surmann were given Lifetime Achievement Awards for attaining at least 4,000 hours of volunteer service.

The Presidential Service Awards are given annually to those who volunteer 100 hours or more during a one-year period. Bronze is awarded to those with 100-249 hours, Silver for 250-499 hours, and Gold for putting in 500 or more hours.

Sisters Habitat for Humanity now has 113 members of the 1,000-Hour Club; since 2016, 17 volunteers attained the Lifetime Award.

The most emotional part of the evening for many in the audience was when a single mother who raised her two children in a Habitat home talked about the joy and sense of accomplishment she felt when she paid off her mortgage in 2020 after 19 years in her home. Tears were aplenty as she spoke with humility of how Habitat shaped her life.

Diana Harris is the ninth in Sisters to retire her mortgage. Typically, Habitat funds 25- to 30-year loans, and hers was a special circumstance having received a grant that reduced her mortgage term.

Sisters Habitat has completed 71 homes and six are under construction. Work is slower this year due to a shortage of materials and components, like garage doors that can take up to 16 weeks for delivery as a result of the county and statewide building boom.

Catastrophic fires last summer in Oregon, resulting in the loss of over 3,000 residential structures, have put enormous pressure on building materials.

Notwithstanding that the event was held outdoors; nearly every attendee was masked and maintaining physical separation in response to rising COVID-19 case counts.


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