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September 24, 2017 - 12:05am

KAILUA-KONA — Ten houses in 10 days.

It was an ambitious goal for Habitat for Humanity Hawaii Island’s Blitz Build — setting out to build twice as many houses as the 2012 Blitz Build in the same span of time.

But the organization’s executive director, Pat Hurney, never doubted they’d get it done.

“I knew we had the right people in place, and I really wasn’t nervous,” Hurney said on Saturday. “I just wanted to get started, because I knew it would happen.”

And on Saturday, hundreds of volunteers gathered in the La‘i ‘Opua subdivision of Kailua-Kona for a blessing as the neighborhood’s newest residents got the keys to their new homes.

Among them was Renee Samoa, who’s moving into one of the homes with her two daughters and son.

“It’s an overwhelming, awesome feeling,” she said. “It’s just — I just have no words. … There’s a lot of feeling for it and I’m just happy that I was able to provide this home for my kids.”

And her kids, she added, are ecstatic.

“The smiles on their faces just says it all,” she said.

And first on her to-do list?

“Cook our very first family meal,” she said. “The kitchen is my favorite part … I just love to cook in there.”

The project was also a partnership involving the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands. The 10 families all met DHHL requirements in addition to meeting Habitat for Humanity requirements.

Jim DuPont, West Hawaii district supervisor for the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands, said the partnership with Habitat for Humanity has been an excellent one that’s helped many families.

And where the missions of DHHL and Habitat for Humanity intersect, he said, it’s a great opportunity to create a partnership between the agency and the organization.

“They build homes. We build homes,” he said. “And so that’s where we can cooperate and collaborate with one another.”

Now that the houses are built, Hurney said, it was amazing seeing it all come together.

“It’s just so incredible that after 10 days, we have 10 brand new homes for local families,” he said.

While a few of the homes are 100-percent complete, Hurney said, others still need some minor details, such as gutters or tiling work. But for the most part, he said, they’re ready to welcome their new families.

“The house blessing day is really the day that I live for in this job,” Hurney said. “That’s what it’s all about; it’s about the families. It’s about transforming lives and seeing the appreciation of the families.”

Hurney estimated they had about 3,000 volunteers come out over the span of the Blitz Build, which included those from both the local community and an ocean away. Restaurants and retailers also donated food, ice and man hours to the effort.

Don Pemberton of Phoenix, Arizona, came to Kona with the Blitz Home Builders, an organization that coordinates with Habitat for Humanity affiliates across the country for Blitz Build projects.

This project was Pemberton’s second Blitz Build, he said, and also his second trip to Kona.

“It’s an exciting location,” he said. “I think the whole thing about building a house in 10 days is quite the undertaking. It’s a challenge. It’s fun.”

Another volunteer, Sally Langan of Green Bay, Wisconsin, came out as part of the Global Village program, which sends volunteers to Habitat for Humanity build projects around the world.

“I just really support their vision of ‘every family deserves a safe and adequate place to live at an affordable price,’” she said. “So much springs from a healthy home life and that’s what Habitat’s all about.”

Langan said she’s helped build homes in Green Bay, El Salvador and Jordan, but this was her first Blitz Build and first time in Hawaii, and when she heard about the effort to build 10 homes in 10 days, she was “ready to jump in and give it a try.”

“It’s always an adventure, so that’s been part of it,” she said. “You learn a lot about the local people and the culture and the history, and I like that as well.”

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