BONNERS FERRY — Life can change in what may seem like a blink of the eye — one day, there is a happy family home, and the next, there isn’t.
Navy veteran Laura Wolf found herself and her children in a situation in which they needed help with housing.
“I was in the Navy, and hopped around a lot,” said Wolf. “I have put in a few hours in several states on some houses, and I never thought I would be at the point where I needed assistance. Things just didn’t go as planned.”
She came back home to Bonners Ferry about five years ago in a tough spot, and with the community having limited rental choices, the family was hard pressed.
“I don’t make that much for being a single parent,” said Wolf.
Her youngest daughter has Down syndrome, but that doesn’t slow her down from anything in life. She loves animals and horseback riding like her sister, who is working on vaulting, which is like gymnastics on horseback.
Wolf looked into Habitat for Humanity housing and couldn’t find one for Boundary County, so she searched for one in Bonner County, and ended up being denied qualification.
“So I gave up,” said Wolf. “My friends on Facebook saw something about the Fuller Center For Housing, and tagged me in a post about them accepting applications.”
Millard Fuller, and his wife Linda, founded Habitat for Humanity in 1976 and have since branched their operation to the Fuller Center for Housing in 2005.
“The Fuller Center provides the structure, guidance and support that communities need to build and repair homes for the impoverished among them. By working alongside volunteers and repaying construction costs on terms they can handle, homeowners are able to regain a sense of basic human dignity,” states their website.
The new homeowner is immersed in the decision making of the house — from the floor plan to the color of the walls.
“I have been involved since the get go,” said Wolf. “They would ask me what I would like, I love the layout I chose, I got to pick out the colors of the roof and the siding, the flooring, the paint on the walls, countertops, cabinets, everything.”
She chose from a platform of floorplans for her new house, choosing the one that best met her and her family’s needs. With three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a large and open kitchen and living space, and a decent sized open lot, the family has plenty of room to grow.
“Longevity wise, we try to make the home handicap accessible and efficient, so they can come in, they are new, and will last 20-30 years, so there are no shortcuts,” said Teresa Rae, who has been coordinating and helping with the project.
Idaho Forest Group donated a large portion of wood for the structure. They have a booth at the fair that generates donations toward programs such as this. They assisted with the project and with their help, the crew was able to erect the structure.
“We had enough wood, 2x4s and 2x6s for studs, really the entire house this time from their donations,” said Rae.
Boundary Tractor supplied the use of tools and equipment to the project, free of cost, so that the family-in-need will have their dream home.
“For this build, these bike riders came in and are staying in the high school.” said Rae. “They will be on site for today and tomorrow, so we hope to get the drywall done and at least some of the siding.”
There were various people and businesses in town that assisted, mostly with food and drinks, giving the teams the fuel they needed to get the job done.
“I thank everybody for their help and support,” said Wolf. “For donating — Wells Fargo, Kootenai River Inn, Life Care Center in Sandpoint, and various other people and businesses. The bicyclists that came in and they have done such great work and it’s been amazing.”
Various places contributed by donating food and money to support the workers during the time they assisted with the project.
“To feed the bicyclists that have come in, that is amazing,” said Wolf. “They do this all across the United States. They do such great work and it is great to meet each one of them from different states.”
The cyclists come from all across the U.S.
“I started cycling with the Fuller Center and have made several rides with them,” said Ky Griffin from Texas. “I enjoy helping build projects for people.”
“It’s pretty cool,” said Ed Vanderpol, from Beaverton, Ore. “I have been involved with this for quite some time, but this is one of the first building projects that I have been involved with the Fuller Center, the very first being a home in Colorado.”
With the assistance of all of those that helped with the build, the house has been erected and the building has gone quickly with the hope to have the family settled in by wintertime.
“It’s finally become a reality, even from selection, it’s been life changing and it has already changed our lives a lot,” said Wolf.
Speaking about what shocked her the most about this project, Wolf said, “All of the Habitat homes I worked with down in places like Florida, they are little lots, you barely have any yard. So when they poured the foundation and I had first come to look at the lot, I asked how far the lot went, and Teresa said to the fence, and my response was ‘what, you’re kidding, right?’”
She plans to test her green thumb with the extra yard space and create a garden. Her children have already begun their plans as well, asking for a pool, trampoline, and animals.
”The people that we build these projects for, are always very appreciative,” said Griffon.
With profuse thanks to everyone that helped with the project, the Wolf family will finally have a stable home and move forward with their busy lifestyle. They plan to utilize the nearby Kootenai River for recreation, take family adventures out, and continue to live their active lifestyle with one less thing to worry about — a place to call home.
For more information on the Fuller Center for Housing, visit https://fullercenter.org.