Two years ago, Pam Madson and Nancy Fisher had little more than a prayer of getting a new house.
Last week, with a prayer, the two single mothers were handed the fresh-cut keys to their new homes.
Madson and Fisher had their prayers answered through the efforts of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a dozen big-hearted construction companies and Habitat for Humanity.
They will each take half of the two-story duplex in the West Central neighborhood. The chrome shower heads gleam; the well-constructed walls echo dully.
Because most of the labor and many of the materials were donated, they will each make monthly mortgage payments, including tax and insurance, of less than $280. Both women were paying more than that in rent.
Madson, mother of three, just completed an associate degree at Spokane Community College and is enrolled for fall classes in Eastern Washington University’s biology program. She said without the reduction in housing payments, she would have had a tough time scraping together tuition money.
“This lets me put a roof over (her kids’) heads affordably while going to school,” said Madson. “These people are so great; they are non-judgmental, they say you can do it.”
For Fisher’s six children, the new house means something else - pets.
Unable to have them at their previous home in Northeast Spokane, Fisher says the family has rounded up two cats and has a third one on the way.
Her 15-year-old son Vernon was looking for a basset hound.
Fisher, a student at Spokane Falls Community College, said the fourbedroom duplex would allow her children to “spread out and have their own space.”
Both women have put in more than 500 hours of labor with Habitat, according to local coordinator Dia Hadley. At least 100 hours must be worked on Habitat projects other than their own.
Building up those hours usually takes two years of work, which helps weed out people who are just looking for a handout, said Hadley.
“It is a whole different mindset,” said Hadley. “They are going to be a homeowner, and we try and prepare them.” Madson and Fisher, like all Habitat beneficiaries, must go through classes in budgeting, energy efficiency, home repair and maintenance.
And like all Habitat projects, the West Central duplex was a collaborative effort. The LDS church paid for half the building, but a variety of companies - from turf sodders to furnace installers - gave free material.
“Most of the volunteers have been good role models for the boys,” said Madson. Habitat for Humanity has built 34 homes, including the new duplex, in Spokane. Four more are planned.
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