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The city gave Habitat for Humanity the Dewey Avenue lot to build the new home.

Lou Coelho, president of Central Berkshire Habitat for Humanity, compared the building process to the TV show Cheers.

Ron Marcella was the project manager for this one and will be for the next. He presented the family with tools to keep up with the maintenance.

Habitat For Humanity Dedicates Pittsfield Home

By Andy McKeever
iBerkshires Staff
01:02PM / Sunday, February 23, 2014
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Central Berkshire Habitat for Humanity Executive Director Carolyn Valli turned the keys to the newly built Dewey Avenue home over to the Hayden family.

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — When Bobby and Andrew Hayden first volunteered for Habitat for Humanity, they didn't know that they'd be building their own home.

The two Taconic High School students volunteered to build houses with Central Berkshire Habitat for Humanity when they turned 16. Seven months ago, they began a project that ended up becoming their home.

On Saturday, the fruits of their effort paid off with Central Berkshire Habitat for Humanity turning over the keys to the newly built 1,144 square-foot house on Dewey Avenue to their mother, Bonnie.

"They had no expectations then," said Peter Samsel, who sits on the Habitat for Humanity board of directors.

Samsel has known the family for "a dozen years" and remembers taking trips with the family when the two boys were young.

When Bobby and Andrew joined the organization, they were just doing it to help others with no expectations that their family would eventually own a home.

The family applied and was accepted into the program a year ago. Part of the program is to go through the vigorous financial literacy training, revamping their finances and budget.

"It's a very difficult program but as they go through, hope come in," said Peg Samsel, who worked with the family through the process.

In the end, the organization built its 26th home in Berkshire County but the first that is handicapped accessible to accommodate Bonnie Hayden. The goal is to help families with tough backgrounds become homeowners and the Hayden now have a three-bedroom, one bathroom home to call their own.

"Its really the whole community who makes this possible," said Central Berkshire Habitat for Humanity President Lou Coelho. "We put the houses together, the family makes it a home."

And it isn't just to help out families but to also help out communities. The Dewey Avenue home is just the latest in the city's West Side the organization has helped built. The goal, according to Carolyn Valli, executive director, is create thriving, safe communities.

Mary McGinness, representing Mayor Daniel Bianchi, and Superintendent of Schools Jason McCandless both spoke at the dedication.

Across the street, a home the city has pegged for demolition will eventually be turned into a greenway. Valli asked those gathered Saturday to envision the changing landscape with activities and businesses. That takes a lot of hard work and the entire community to make it possible, she said.

The organization will start building another home next Saturday on Goodrich Street. During the process, Coelho says "people of all ages, of all professions and retirees" will again help.

Those who help are helping someone else, practicing or learning a trade or being with friends. He compared the building process to the theme song of the TV show "Cheers," where everybody knows your name.

The Hayden's home had the supplemental help of the Taconic High School's carpentry program. The students learned their trade while helping the organization.

"We're very grateful that we have this program and we can do this for the community," Superintendent Jason McCandless said, adding that the program will help with the next home, too.


Tags: community development,   habitat for humanity,   

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