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Eight families closer to home after Habitat’s Blitz Build

Sun., June 17, 2007

Some of the words didn’t come out right Saturday as Luc Le gave his speech with broken English. The message, however, was unmistakable.

“I want to show my impression in my heart,” Le told the crowd gathered to celebrate Habitat for Humanity-Spokane’s Blitz Build Celebration. “We are very thankful to every volunteer and sponsor, to have a home in dream country.”

Le and members of eight other families were provided homes through the effort of more than 1,400 volunteers that began June 1 in Spokane.

While the exteriors are completed on the two triplexes, one duplex and one single-family home, they won’t be ready for move-in until Aug. 1, said David Sullivan, the construction director for the project.

“All the families are in poverty housing situations. We want to do what we can to eliminate that,” Sullivan said.

As he spoke, 3-year-old Edina Arnautovic walked up and gave Sullivan a handful of nails she had found. “Thank you, sweetie,” Sullivan said.

Edina looked up into his eyes, smiled and kicked the dirt before running off to join her older brother, 10-year-old Ziki.

Their father, 35-year-old Omer Arnautovic, said he and his wife fled war-torn Bosnia in 1999 and came to Spokane, where he works as a truck driver.

They currently live in an 800-square-foot home in which they share a bedroom with Edina. Arnautovic stood at the door of his future home.

“Today we just got a house,” he said with a large smile. “Today, we got a brand new house. I give thanks to all the people and volunteers from Habitat for Humanity. Totally, totally thank you.”

Joseph Avila, 37, said he moved his wife and four children to Spokane about three years ago from California. He currently works at the warehouse for Mountain Gear Inc., which allowed him to adjust his schedule to attend Saturday’s celebration.

“It’s a great opportunity to become a homeowner,” Avila said. “Everybody here has been so supportive. We are grateful that all these people volunteered their time when they could have been home resting.”

To qualify for a home, each family must donate a minimum of 500 hours toward the project.

Each of the homes is built with either donated materials or purchased with donated funds, Sullivan said.

Michone Preston, executive director of Habitat for Humanity-Spokane, said she was thrilled with the progress made on the homes during the 15-day blitz.

“This year’s broader blitz focus allowed our construction team to expand the blitz building effort to include work on multiple homes,” she said.


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