From The Vancouver Columbian (Vancouver, WA):
A Home for the Holidays
Dozens help family celebrate 19th house built by Evergreen Habitat for Humanity
By Dave Kern, Columbian Assistant Metro Editor
Borrowing a scene from Hollywood, Russ Chambers presented new homeowner Kelly Coleman with bread, salt, and cider. When he handed her a cross, a Bible and house keys, she wept.
Coleman and her children, Brody, 9, and Dakota, 13, are the proud owners of the 19th house built by Evergreen Habitat for Humanity. More than 100 people stood in the cold Sunday afternoon as the house at 7003 N.E. 98th Ave. was dedicated and blessed.
“We welcome you to your new house,” said Habitat board president Chambers. “It was built by the hands of people and with the love of God.”
The Rev. Al Fischer said three Presbyterian churches — First, Columbia and St. John’s — formed a partnership to build the house. He said church pastors concluded: “We can do this together. We can’t do it alone.”
Fischer and First Presbyterian members helped build a nearby Habitat house in 1991. They hope to be involved again.
Coleman, 38, a single mom, provided sweat equity, logging about 270 hours. The children helped, too, including painting their rooms.
Chambers said the pale green, cream and white 1,065-square-foot, three bedroom house represents another step in Habitat’s mission.
“We are eliminating substandard housing one house at a time,” he said.
“Amen,” the assembled responded.
He said he could not resist re-creating a scene from the classic movie “It’s a Wonderful Life.” The bread symbolizes never facing hunger, the salt is for flavor and the cider stands for joy and prosperity.
Kelly Coleman could not stem the flow of tears but managed to say, “I’ve met so many wonderful people. My kids appreciate that they finally have their own room. You guys are my family, and you’re stuck with us.”
The dedication was more of a love-in, including an informal choir singing “(There’s No Place Like )Home for the Holidays” and “I’ll Be Home for Christmas.”
Dr. John Greves, chairman of the mission and outreach ministry at First Presbyterian, presented the family with quilts made by women at his church.
He said building a house is a two-way street. While the Coleman family now has a house, Greves said the project “made us bigger and better and greater as individuals. You’ve made a huge difference in our lives.”
Mary Lou Williams of Columbia church, also presented each member of the family with a quilt. She told Brody his includes “a couple of pockets you can hide candy in.”
Barry Sullivan of Grocery Outlet stocked the family’s pantry with $300 in groceries and provided a $100 gift card for holiday shopping at his store.
The three churches bought a big-screen TV for the family.
“Everybody’s been wonderful,” said Kelly Coleman, a meat wrapper at the Safeway at Mill Plain Boulevard and Andresen Road. “It’s warm,” she said, standing in her living room. “No cracks in the ceiling. You walk in, it’s a home.”
Kelly’s mother, Peggy Coleman, said Kelly had lived for 14 years in a two-bedroom apartment near Clark College. She said Kelly decided to apply for a Habitat house, “and this just fell into place.”
“This has been one of the most wonderful experiences,” Peggy Coleman said. “There’s no words that can describe how I feel. No one could deserve this more than Kelly.”