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During the teeth of the Pandemic in 2020, Mike and Tommi D. would grab their kids, Hunter and Riley, pack a picnic and sit down at the lunch table located at the Nevada County Habitat for Humanity’s Park Place build site. They’d sit for a couple hours, gazing at the gravel filled trenches on the plot of land that would someday be the site of their home. And they would dream.
Tommi would visualize the security and safety her children would experience, where she wouldn’t have to worry about them when they went outside to play. Mike dreamt of being able to gaze at his home, knowing that his sweat and blood were mixed into the foundation of the home he’d help to build for his family with his own hands. Meanwhile, Hunter and Riley both wondered what it would be like to have a room of their own. In fact, Hunter would make 3-D models out of Play-Doh of what his room would look like.
That day came on Friday, December 17, 2021, as Mike and Tommi’s freshly completed home was dedicated, the 43rd built by Nevada County Habitat.
“We are over-the-moon excited and a little scared,” Tommi says. “This is a journey that has been long, but one I’d never take back. It’s the most beautiful and amazing thing that has ever happened to our family. Our dreams are coming true.”
Mike and Tommi diligently completed their 500-hour sweat equity commitment through an enthusiastic willingness to help further the Habitat mission. Mike spent almost every Saturday working alongside the dedicated team of Habitat volunteers that constructed their home, while Tommi often helped at ReStore or assisted with mailings at the Habitat affiliate office.
Through a combination of site development challenges at the front-end, followed by the onset of the Covid-19 Pandemic, Mike and Tommi had to navigate through an unusual set of circumstances that marked their journey.
“What with Covid and everything else, we had to learn patience and trust,” Mike says. “We had complete trust in everyone at Nevada County Habitat – we knew they always had our best interests in mind.”
From the moment they were selected the couple has maintained their optimism and gratitude during their Habitat journey. “I think Mike and Tommi demonstrated the spirit of Habitat every step of the way,” says Lorraine Larson, Nevada County Habitat’s Executive Director. “Our construction volunteers highly valued Mike’s commitment, and I know that he will likely volunteer to help in the completion of the two remaining homes at Park Place.
“The Habitat mission is made possible by the dedication and generosity of so many people and organizations,” Larson said. “They make our community as a whole a better place to live, and certainly have made it possible for families like Mike and Tommi’s to experience long-term stability and security.”
Nevada County Habitat is able to ensure that homeowners purchase their home with a no-interest mortgage payment that does not exceed 30% of a family’s monthly income. “This is only made possible through the generosity of local donors in our community,” Larson says. “And nearly one-hundred percent of the labor to build a home is performed by volunteers.” She went on to say that in addition to local individual donors, Habitat also received grants from Wells Fargo and United Auburn Indian Community, along with donations from local businesses; and in-kind donations from Byers and MEC Builds that literally put a roof and rain-gutters on Mike and Tommi’s home. Additional special donations came from Grocery Outlet of Grass Valley and B&C Ace Hardware. “A Habitat build is definitely a community experience!” She said.
“We are so thankful to everyone that have made this dream possible for us. Being able to be hands-on, working alongside all of the amazing volunteers, has been an incredible experience,” Mike says. “Being able to stand in this home and just say, ‘this is mine. I helped build this with my own hands’, is an indescribable feeling. I mean, I literally have actual blood invested in building my family’s home!”
For more information on Nevada County Habitat, please go to www.NCHabitat.org.