BELFAST — The first wall of Habitat for Humanity of Waldo County’s newest home went up with the aid of a crew of Care-A-Vanners Aug. 7, with the future homeowner on hand to assist.
The new home is located off of Oak Hill Road in Belfast and will become home to this year’s chosen recipients, Michael Curtis and his soon-to-be 3-year-old son, Camden.
Curtis, who learned he had been chosen at a surprise event at Lincolnville General Store, where he works, said he was surprised to learn he was just months away from a home of his own.
“It definitely is still taking time to wrap my head around,” he said of being selected, “but it came as a huge shock…and kind of like a burden lifted off my shoulders.”
A group of six Care-A-Vanners from all over the country came to assist with the two-week framing section of the build, including Don Sparks and his wife Carolyn, who traveled from Texas to assist.
The Care-A-Vanners are a country-wide group of volunteers who drive around the United States in their RVs and assist with Habitat for Humanity builds along the way.
There are roughly 5,000 Care-A-Vanners in all, according to Sparks, who said last year the group completed 140 builds across the country.
Sparks said he and his wife have assisted with six builds so far, with this being their second in Maine.
“They’re all very similar,” he said of the Habitat homes.
“You will see slightly different shapes of houses depending on the needs of the families. We have built houses with four and five bedrooms because [there are] large families [and] two bedrooms like this one.”
Sparks said there are also different considerations depending on where in the country the build is happening. Residents of northern states are more concerned with keeping their homes warm in the winter, while residents of hotter states, such as Louisiana, where the Sparks have built before, are worried about how to keep the homes cool.
Meg Klingelhofer, HHWC’s executive director, said one thing that is unique about this year’s Waldo County build is that they’re setting it up to allow the home to potentially become energy independent in the future.
“[Curtis] has a lot of interest in alternative energy, so down the road, being able to become energy independent is an option,” Klingelhofer said.
Though physically building the home has only recently gotten underway, the process of lining everything up for the build has been happening since the homeowner was chosen in February.
“The [volunteers] who’ve been committed to this year after year make it possible to set a date and actually be ready for framing. So there is an entire build in the months that lead up to the wall going up where every phase of the house has been bid, all the people who have maybe been supplying materials have been reached out to, all the volunteer are getting signed up,” she said of some of the pre-build prep-work that goes into any HHWC build.
“It feels like most of the build happens before the build starts and then it's the fun part,” she said.
Though the building is fun, Don Sparks said his favorite part of every build is seeing the homeowners face when the first wall is erected.
“We’ve done one where the walls went up and the lady getting the house realized everybody there working on it was from another state. She just lost it. [Her] mouth was moving but nothing was coming out. Just the idea that people showed up from all over to build her house,” he said before adding, “and all of them seem like such genuinely grateful people.”
For his part, Michael Curtis said he is looking forward to raising his son “in a very stable environment and just having the perfect place for him to grow up,” he said.
“It’s going to be great. This house is going to be amazing,” he said.
Erica Thoms can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org