Habitat for Humanity Facts:
• Each family owns their home and pays a mortgage plus covers utility and personal insurance costs.
• Homes are built through volunteer labor, grants, donations, discounted services and building materials. Homeowners contribute at least 300 labor hours.
• The ReStore collects used and surplus building materials. All profits from the ReStore stay in Payson.
• To date, PAHH has built 27 homes for area families.
Georgia Burnside’s life has completely turned around since she learned she was chosen for a Habitat for Humanity home. Where she used to check her son’s bed for spiders every night in their ratty rental, her worries now center on picking out the perfect accent wall color for her living room.
On Saturday, Burnside and three other single mothers joyfully celebrated the dedication of their new homes, the final phase in a 14-home complex off Longhorn that started in 2007.
“I am so happy I can’t even tell you,” Burnside said standing in her living room. “I was just laying in here last night on the floor looking around in awe.”
Fred Badger, Payson Area Habitat for Humanity (PAHH) president, toasted the “monumental occasion” Saturday morning, giving thanks to the countless volunteers and organizations that donated their time and money to see the homes built.
“It has been a team effort and I am proud to be part of that team,” he said, wiping tears from his eyes.
Jennifer Baltz, PAHH’s new executive director, also praised homeowners and volunteers for their work.
“We live in a community with so much heart. You see that every day in the volunteers and donors who give so much of their time, resources and energy to help deserving families have affordable, healthy homes,” she said. “It’s my honor and joy to work with them.”
Identical to other homes in the complex, Burnside’s home has three bedrooms in an upstairs level and a kitchen and living room downstairs.
Although no furniture was moved in, Burnside’s sandy taupe accent wall proudly differentiated hers from the others.
But beyond wall color and carpet samples, the homes meant more than a decorating project for Burnside, Melissa Devaney, Athena Mikulak and Diana Hale, they represent “a place of love and protection” for their family, said Pastor Javier Oliveres, PAHH director of church relations.
For Burnside, a home also means stability for her son, Nikko, 11, who has never called a place home for long.
Since moving to the Rim Country 3.5 years ago, Burnside has moved six times, going from a back room in Burnside’s aunt and uncle’s mobile home in Star Valley to a few shabby rentals in Payson.
With the keys to their first home, Nikko said he was proud of his mother’s efforts.
“This morning he looked at me and said, ‘Look how far we have come, Mom,’” Burnside said.
The road to a home was filled with a few hiccups for Burnside. After applying in 2008, Burnside learned she had been chosen for a home in the second phase. In the midst of construction, however, her home was given to a woman with five children.
“I knew if it was meant to be it would happen again,” she said. “So I was OK with it, I just had to wait another two years.”
Former PAHH executive director Chris Royer encouraged Burnside to hold out for a home.
“She has waited a long time for this,” Royer said.
“She (Royer) told me to hang in there because God has a plan,” Burnside said.
Finally with the home hers, “I have been crying all morning,” she added.
Burnside put down $2,200 for the home, with a monthly mortgage payment of $468. For Burnside, who works for the Payson Unified School District, the payment is more than affordable.
For Mikulak and her three children, who range in age from 6 to 16, their home represents an exciting time of change.
Mikulak learned she would receive a home just a month ago when another family dropped out unexpectedly.
Mikulak jumped at the opportunity and happily put in hundreds of hours of work in the short period. Homeowners are required to put in 300-500 hours of volunteer time to receive a home.
Most homeowners help with construction while some work at the ReStore, a center for used furniture, home accessories, building materials and appliances. Payson’s ReStore, at 103 E. Highway 260, is open Wednesday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Besides working with contractors and homeowners, Baltz also manages the ReStore.
Baltz, who took over as executive director several weeks ago, said PAHH is looking at several new building projects around town.
“We own several lots in Payson, which will be great building sites for future homes,” she said. “We are also looking into some exciting programs that can benefit even more local residents by rehabilitating or weatherizing homes.”
The PAHH board is looking for additional members and volunteers and plans to set a specific course of action in the next few months.
“As we finish Longhorn Village, we’re looking at new projects that will make the biggest difference in our community,” she said.
For more information, contact board member Ross Hage at (928) 468-2281 or Baltz at (928) 474-0330.