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Area churches band together to sponsor local Habitat home

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Yakima Valley Partners Habitat for Humanity Executive Director Mike Nixon (left) and President Nibbs Menard (right) accept a $2,500 gift from American West Bank's Sandy Purcell.

Churches from Sunnyside, Grandview and Prosser are banding together to help build a Yakima Valley Partners Habitat for Humanity home here in Sunnyside on Carousel Road. The organization also recently received a $2,500 grant from American West Bank to assist with the project.

According to Financial Center Manager Sandy Purcell, the money was raised following a VIP reception that was held at the bank. Money was set aside for the grant based on how many people attended the reception. For every attendee, $25 was set aside.

The churches that are sponsoring the home on Carousel Road include the First Presbyterian Church of Sunnyside, the Sunnyside Christian Reformed Church, Grandview's Bethany Presbyterian Church and the United Methodist Church in Prosser. According to Yakima Valley Partners Executive Director Mike Nixon, the Grandview Church of the Nazarene will soon be on board as well.

Nixon said he's appreciative of the $2,500 gift from the bank and added that it was the bank's top priority to keep the money local.

"They requested a lower valley home," he said.

Nixon said that the lot was donated by Leroy Ganzer. On average, his agency receives about one lot donation a year.

The home will be built at 91 Carousel Road. Nixon said he expects the footing will be poured this Tuesday, the stem walls will be formed Wednesday and concrete will be poured on Thursday.

"Over the course of the next four weeks, we'll probably be seeing something that actually looks like a house. Our goal is to have windows in about four weeks."

Nixon said that the family selected for this house began the application process in October 2005. The family, who will reside in a three bedroom home, consists of two parents, one high school student and two twin eighth graders.

"Our mission is to build low cost housing and providing home ownership opportunities for people who have low incomes. In this area, those selected for a Habitat for Humanity home generally have an annual income of between $13,000 and $30,000.

The family will have to put in 500 hours of sweat equity on the home. Nixon said they're also encouraged to invite their friends and family members to work on the house as well.

"We really do want the families (that will be homeowners) to work with our volunteers. Our volunteers appreciate that and enjoy getting to know them," Nixon said.

The Carousel Road home will be 1,073 square feet in size, with a 70 square foot porch.

"We really feel there's nothing nicer than sitting on the porch on a nice evening, enjoying the view," Nixon said.

Nixon said that the application process is lengthy and of about 150 applicants each year, only six will be selected for home ownership.

Nixon said that one misconception that people have about the organization is that the houses are simply given away. That's not the case, he said. "The families work on them and then they purchase the house. Ideally, we get money from sponsors. Then the money the families give us allows us to use that to build future houses."

Nixon said that Habitat for Humanity collects the mortgage, property tax and insurance all in one payment from the homeowners, who are given a zero-interest loan.

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