Guatemalan immigrants move into Habitat home in Forest Grove

by: COURTESY PHOTO: WEST TUALITY HABITAT FOR HUMANITY - Jose Quim holds the key to his new Forest Grove home as his wife, Silvia Sop, and daughter Ada are all smiles just behind him. Santa delivered the key and hung around for the photo Saturday, Dec. 21.Four days before Christmas, Santa Claus delivered an early present to the Quim family of Forest Grove: the keys to a new home on 19th Avenue in Forest Grove.

Inside, an undecorated Christmas tree stood in one corner with donated ornaments glittering nearby, waiting for the family to begin making the house their home.

Jose Quim immigrated to the United States 20 years ago from Guatemala and has been trying to bring his wife, Silvia Sop, and three children to join him. Two years ago, the four finally arrived — and had to crowd into the Hillsboro home belonging to Sop’s sister and her family.

A church friend told Quim about Habitat for Humanity, a nonprofit which promotes home ownership for low-income people.

“I really appreciate this organization giving the opportunity for people who have low resources,” Quim said, “to help families like mine and others in the community to have a home.”

The family’s pastor, Jeremias Diego of Iglesia Restauracion in Hillsboro, blessed the home Saturday, Dec. 21, and thanked all the volunteers who helped build it.

“God will pay you and bless you for all your hard efforts. We are all one family,” he said.  by: COURTESY PHOTO: WEST TUALITY HABITAT FOR HUMANITY - West Tuality Habitats ReStore delivered furniture to the Quim home, which will be joined by four more homes over the next two years.

“The family is chosen by the Family Selection Committee,” explained Richard Kidd, construction manager for the project. 

A prospective homeowner must prove he or she has an income that will allow the cost of the home to be no more than 30 percent of their income, which works out to be about $14 per hour. Habitat for Humanity then bills the homeowner for the house payment, insurance and taxes on a monthly basis.

Quim’s is the first of five homes at the Forest Grove location, which has been dubbed “Cooper’s Corner” in honor of Glen Cooper, the local Habitat chapter’s former construction coordinator.

It’s the eighth completed home for the chapter, West Tuality Habitat for Humanity. Four others are under construction — two of them are expected to be finished in 2014, and two more in 2015.

West Tuality Habitat bought the property in 2009, poured foundations in 2011 and immediately began construction, according to Kidd.

Funds for the homes come from several sources, including grants and fundraisers such as an annual gala scheduled around Valentine’s Day. Volunteers are also vital, said Kidd.

This home was built by church groups, service groups and retirees, including retired electricians and plumbers as well as a retired Pacific University music professor.

It was also built by Quim, who likes how the program let him receive help and give help at the same time. Habitat requires prospective homeowners to donate 500 hours of labor to their own home or the homes of others as part of the cost of obtaining a new home.

Contractors also chipped in, donating their time or doing the work at-cost. The roof, for example, owes its materials to Malarkey Roofing of St. Helens and its installation to C&M Construction of Forest Grove. Other in-kind donations include appliances from Whirlpool, exterior insulation from DuPont, paint from Valspar and lock sets from Yale.

Habitat’s ReStore in Forest Grove also raises money for projects, and families can go there to choose furniture for their new homes.

With ReStore’s help, eighth-grader Ada stood in her new bedroom, excited to get furniture and be able to put pictures up on the pink walls. She picked the color herself and is thrilled to have her own space, as are her brothers Erick and Alfonso, 15 and 9.

Equally excited to see the children enjoying their new home was Virginia Ohler, executive director of West Tuality Habitat for Humanity.

“I am overjoyed,” Ohler said. “This home is truly a tangible outpouring of love and community.”

In the Hillsboro home of Silvia’s sister, Ohler said, the entire Quim family had to squeeze into one room.

“We were joking that the Quims getting their house was a Christmas present for both families,” she said.

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