Habitat for Humanity picks family for its Big Bear home
BIG BEAR CITY — Kathy Gunn never dreamed she would someday build her own home. Now that she has, all she can say is "yippee."
Gunn and her two daughters were chosen to occupy and own the first home built by the Big Bear Chapter of Habitat for Humanity. The family has spent the last nine months working along side more than 100 volunteers to finish the 1,100 square-foot home outside Big Bear City in the Lake Williams area.
"I am ecstatic," said Gunn, who was joined by her daughters, chapter members and volunteers Saturday to dedicate the house.
It is the first completed project for the new local Habitat chapter, the first in the San Bernardino Mountain communities.
The national organization was formed 25 years ago to build and rehabilitate houses.
"I liked the program so much because it is not a hand out, but a hand up," said Bob Barrett, who founded the chapter with wife Barbara in 1999, after learning about the organization at his Rotary Club.
"It empowers people who deserve to own their own home, but just can't quite do it on their own,'' Barrett said.
Gunn was chosen from nine applicants to receive the house.
"I did every kind of work a woman could do," said the single mother of three. Gunn works three jobs to make ends meet, but said she still found time to participate even before she knew she had been chosen.
"It is a good cause to get involved with," said Gunn.
The three bedroom, two bathroom house was planned and 60 percent completed before Gunn starting working on it.
"But they let me pick the color scheme, the curtains, linoleum and carpet."
And that was "fun."
In addition to working on the house, Gunn had to be employed, show capability to make a mortgage payment.
"They look at my circumstances and my finances, then tailor the payment so it fits into my budget," Gunn said. Her mortgage payments will be put into an account to pay for the next home project.
"Every time we build a home, the mortgage payment goes to build another. The more we build, the more we can build. That is why this first house is such an achievement for us," Barrett said.
More than 50 companies and over 100 volunteers contributed to the home, which was dedicated during the celebration to former Redlands Federal Bank,, manager Ed Curtis.
Curtis was instrumental in persuading the bank to donate the land for the house. Local real estate agent Rusty Barnes has donated property for the next project, and the group plans to break ground there next month.
~ JENNIFER DOBBS, Correspondent, The Sun — San Bernardino County
, July 29, 2001