Volunteers Jared Manasas, left, and Peter Estoy hammer nails into an exterior wall on the first day of the Habitat for Humanity five homes in 10 days building blitz at Lai Opua on Thursday. (Laura Shimabuku/Special to West Hawaii Today)
Don Ensle right and Jim Dunn cut wood on the first day of the Habitat for Humanity five homes in 10 days building blitz at Lai Opua on Thursday. (Laura Shimabuku/Special to West Hawaii Today)
Volunteers get a briefing from their team leader before starting work on day one of the 10 day building blitz for five Habitat for Humanity homes in Lai Opua on Thursday. (Laura Shimabuku/Special to West Hawaii Today)
Building materials are stacked and ready for the first day of the Habitat for Humanity five homes in 10 days building blitz on Thursday. (Laura Shimabuku/Special to West Hawaii Today)
As the wood frame of her soon-to-be home took shape Thursday morning, Edwina Fujimoto was overcome with “chicken skin” and an overwhelming sense of thanks.
“It’s hard to describe,” said Fujimoto, whose family is one of five to receive a Habitat for Humanity-built home at the Villages at Lai Opua in North Kona. “It’s overwhelming how many people came to help. It’s totally a blessing and I’m so very thankful.
The single mother of five children — four of which are adults — has tried since the early 1990s to secure an affordable home for her family, but time after time things fell through. Now, thanks to Habitat for Humanity West Hawaii, Blitz Home Builders, local businesses and volunteers, Fujimoto will have a place her family can really call home.
Fujimoto is most excited to have a place where the family can gather and celebrate. She is also looking forward to baking, gardening and enjoying a flat yard and room for her extended family to safely play, away from traffic and hills.
“We always wanted a home,” said Fujimoto, who also used her vacation time to take a week off work to put her own “sweat equity” into the home. “This will be home base for my family.”’
Habitat for Humanity West Hawaii’s 2012 Blitz Build in Kona got under way as the sun rose over Hualalai with hundreds of volunteers eager to construct five affordable family homes within 10 days. The build is also part of Habitat for Humanity West Hawaii’s celebration of 10 years serving the island’s leeward side.
Scores of volunteers hailing from Kailua-Kona and beyond on Thursday descended upon the five lots for the first day of a 10-day build. Volunteers’ skills ranged from novices using a hammer or saw for the first time to construction hobbyists and professional contractors well versed in the process.
Cathryn Orton, a member of Solid Rock Ministries and sophomore at the University of Hawaii Center at West Hawaii, spent the morning driving nails helping to frame walls. Though her father built their home, she said she’s never really done such work other than minor painting.
“It’s in my genes,” she explained about her seemingly instinctive ability to drive nails into wood straight. “I love this. It feels so much better than any other feeling to give back.”
The Kailua-Kona resident is also confident that the five homes will be done — at the latest — within 10 days.
“I’ve got faith,” she said. “We’re here full force; we’ve got this in the bag.”
In addition to local volunteers, at least 71 Blitz Home Builders volunteers from the U.S. mainland and Canada, as well as 12 members of Habitat for Humanity International’s Global Village Team, are taking part in the build. The build is slated to wrap up Sept. 22.
Dale Kollars, a Blitz Home Builders volunteer and house leader from Phoenix, said the concept of constructing an affordable home for the working family, and the benefits their children will see from that, is what continues to drive his efforts nearly two decades after first taking part in a volunteer home build.
“It’s giving back and making a difference,” said Kollars, who has helped build 26 homes as a habitat volunteer and later Blitz Home Builders volunteer. “It’s very emotional and it’s very gratifying to see their excitement as the home goes up.”
The five prepackaged, but modified, homes estimated to cost $100,000 to $150,000 each, are being built in an effort to increase affordable housing opportunities in Kona. All are being constructed on Department of Hawaiian Home Lands parcels available to approved Native Hawaiian beneficiaries on a 99-year $1 annual site lease.
Previously, habitat has built 14 homes, all of which have been constructed outside urban Kona because of land costs. Ten have been constructed on DHHL parcels.