BANGOR, Maine — The first thing brothers James, 5, and Daniel, 4, did on Saturday when they entered the Hooker family’s new home — built by Habitat for Humanity of Greater Bangor — was to run toward the steps and their new upstairs bedroom.
“Stop right there,” their mom, Lara Hooker, said just before the duo exited the living room.
It was the first time the family had entered the finished home.
Lara Hooker took her family slowly through each room, pointing out all the things Habitat volunteers installed to make the building a home.
“This is awesome,” David Hooker said while carrying his daughter Naomi, 1.
After checking out the kitchen, dining area, downstairs master bedroom and bathroom, the boys were allowed up the steps. Amanda Charette, the local Habitat operations manager, had the two close their eyes as they got to the top of the steps.
“Wow” was the reaction both boys gave when they saw their new bedroom, painted green and blue and encircled with a sports-themed border.
“This room is so awesome,” their mom said.
“We’re about the best parents ever,” their dad could be heard saying.
The new 1,070-square foot, three bedroom, two bath home also has a pink bedroom that Naomi will grow into situated across the hall from her brothers. At the top of the stairs is a bathroom for the kids.
The family of five is one of more than 100 who applied to be homeowners, Charette said.
“The [Habitat family selection] board was able to narrow down their decision solely on which family had the greatest need,” she said.
For the last couple of years, the Hookers have lived in a small, old two-bedroom apartment in Brewer that was just not big enough.
The Hookers are now paying around $900 a month to rent their apartment and will pay around $500 a month for the 0 percent mortgage on their new home, which is appraised at around $139,000, Charette said.
“It’s a hand up, not a hand out,” she said.
Around 260 individuals worked on the Milford Street home, including contractors, board members, volunteers and the partner family themselves, Carette said, adding a list of local businesses also contributed with materials, labor or both.
Around 10 University of Maine volunteers assisted with framing and adding insulation in the basement, student volunteer Dana Buckly said Saturday while standing in the recently completed home’s living room just before the family arrived.
“It looks so good,” she said. “When we were here in September the walls weren’t up yet.”
She and fellow Habitat UMaine volunteer Corben Green of Fort Kent decided to show up to see the finished product and welcome the family home.
Each new homeowner is required to complete 300 hours of sweat equity, and “they’re up over 400 hours,” Charette said. “They have been here every step of the way. Even before we broke ground they started contributing. He was here every step of the way.”
David Hooker is a manager at McDonald’s on Hogan Road and his wife is a substitute teacher for Little Angles Daycare, where her daughter in enrolled.
If all goes as planned, the closing on the mortgage will be done before Thanksgiving, Charette said. Either way, the family already is thankful for their new home, David Hooker said.
“It’s amazing, so amazing it’s beyond words,” he said. “Thanks just ain’t enough.”