Shop aids Habitat for Humanity’s home building

Sinks and dishwashers, hardwood furniture, picture frames and toilets, too.

Those things and more, all gently used, are on sale at a new Habitat for Humanity thrift shop in the former Tool Town building at 2302 Broadway in Everett. Proceeds will support the nonprofit Habitat for Humanity sweat-equity home-building program in Snohomish County.

Specializing in used construction materials, the shop is open only Saturdays, but as inventory grows that may change.

In a north Everett neighborhood not far from the shop, Kristin Wood takes pride in the home she built partly with her own hands.

Wood, a 47-year-old mother of five, has a master’s degree in business and works to pay her mortgage. She’s a project manager at the Boeing Co. in Everett. That stability was hard earned, but not without a helping hand — many helping hands, in fact.

“In 2003, my kids and I were selected to be a partner family with Habitat for Humanity,” Wood said Tuesday. In 2001, her 18-year marriage ended in divorce.

“I was a single mom to five dependent kids, ages 5 to 15,” Wood said. “I moved in with my mom and dad, found a job, and got the kids in school. But I couldn’t get the housing piece together. I couldn’t afford our own place.”

Her parents learned about Habitat for Humanity at a fundraising concert. “They said, ‘Kristin, you need to check this out,’” Wood said.

An international program, Habitat for Humanity is a nonprofit Christian ministry that helps people work toward home ownership. Former President Jimmy Carter is a longtime Habitat supporter. Participants put in hundreds of work hours in lieu of down payments on houses they help build. Families take on mortgages, but they are nonprofit, zero-interest home loans.

Mary Fears, executive director of Habitat for Humanity of Snohomish County, said the local organization has built 17 homes, remodeled three more, and through a tithing effort has contributed to 22 houses in other countries.

Another 20 families, most of them seniors, have been helped locally through the agency’s Brush with Kindness program, which offers minor home repair and painting.

For Wood, Habitat for Humanity wasn’t a quick fix. She began by attending a public meeting. Her family was on a waiting list, and the selection process took a year. Habitat for Humanity will hold another meeting at 7 p.m. Thursday at Marysville’s Mountain View Presbyterian Church to let others know how to apply for the chance to build a house in Marysville.

“We had a work party every Saturday for a year,” Wood said. Building on her house began in August 2004, and the Woods moved in the following August.

Most of Wood’s children — now 16 to 25 — were too young at the time to be real builders, but they helped. Friends and family toiled alongside the family.

“It was just a fantastic experience,” said Wood, who’s now on the local Habitat board of directors. “The Habitat mantra is ‘Simple, decent housing, and a hand up.’ That’s really what we needed to get a fresh start. I have a mortgage, but it’s affordable.”

Fears said 500 hours of sweat equity are required of builders, and 300 of those must be worked by people who will live in the house. “The rest can be extended family and friends,” Fears said.

During construction, Wood worked as a registrar at a Christian school. “I went back to school at Northwest University in Kirkland, and then got a job at Boeing,” she said.

Fears said the Habitat shop was made possible by a $95,000 National Capacity Building Grant from the international Habitat organization. The three-year grant will fully fund a store manager the first year, then will be reduced as the store becomes more self-sustaining. In other states, Habitat uses the name ReStore for its shops. In Washington, Fears said, that name was already in use.

The shop will provide money and visibility for the organization. It’s also a fun place to treasure hunt. Everett’s Habitat for Humanity office is on Hoyt Avenue, a few blocks from the new shop. Fears has already made a few purchases.

“I’m already worried about having it so close. I found a really neat oak credenza,” Fears said. “Every time I go in there, I buy something.”

Julie Muhlstein: 425-339-3460; muhlstein@heraldnet.com.

Habitat for Humanity thrift shop

A new Habitat for Humanity thrift shop at 2302 Broadway in Everett sells gently used construction materials and furniture. It’s open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturdays; donations welcome. Proceeds support the nonprofit home-building program.

Habitat for Humanity of Snohomish County will hold a public meeting at 7 p.m. Thursday at Mountain View Presbyterian Church, 5115 100th St. NE, Marysville. Learn how to apply for a chance to be a homeowner by building a Habitat house.

For more information, go to www.habitat snohomish.org.

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