This Thanksgiving will be extra special for Amanda and Shawn Umble of Bangor. The couple and their three young children just settled into their new home, build by them and by a small army of volunteers for Habitat for Humanity of Greater Bangor.
For the past four months, hundreds of volunteers have donated their time and talents to help construct, design and paint the Umble’s 1200 square foot, single story abode so the family could celebrate the holiday under their new roof.
“There’s been about 210 volunteers working on the house off and on including the Umbles themselves,” said Lin Lufkin, site manager for the construction of the Umble’s home. “Part of the agreement with the potential owners is they had to contribute 500 hours of their own time building the house and they’ve been great to work with.”
The Umble home is the fourth Habitat for Humanity home Lufkin has helped build. But unlike his previous builds, this home is equipped with a $12,000 system of solar panels donated by ReVision Energy in Liberty. And Emera Maine donated a heat pump to help keep the home cozy, warm and energy efficient all year round. The combined impact of the solar panels and heat pump will save the family hundreds, if not thousands of dollars per year in energy costs.
“Habitat basically has the philosophy of building a suitable house but not an extravagant house,” said Lufkin. “[The couple] were living in subsidized housing in Bangor and their expenses were tied to their income, so as they tried to improve themselves, their expenses went up. The new setup of this house will help them be able to live more economically.”
Being economical, thrifty and creative were top priorities for volunteer Kristian Baber. The 16-year-old junior at John Bapst has a passion for design and teamed up with Habitat to create a one of kind bedroom for 9-year-old Aaliyah Umble.
“I met with Aaliyah and the family and we went over certain ideas and things they wanted. The biggest challenge was it’s an 8 x 11 room so it’s kind of tight for a little girl who likes to read. Getting storage was one of her main goals, so we were able to figure out a solution with a comfy desk chair and a separate area next to her desk with bookshelves,” said Baber.
Baber furnished Aaliyah’s entire room by collecting funds from her family, friends, the Knights of Columbus and Walmart. She also bargain shopped at yard sales, thrift stores and Habitat’s ReStore in order to stretch her budget, which was set at between $300 and $400.
“The biggest purchases we had to make were a box spring, desk, bookshelf and desk chair,” said Baber. “Then I put things together using different patterns and colors and it turned out really good.”
The Umbles were given the keys to their new home earlier this week just in time to celebrate Thanksgiving around the table.
“We try to build at least one house a year,” said Lufkin. “I really enjoy working with all the volunteers. There’s a lot of very skilled people out there especially in the senior community and a lot of volunteer hours go into a house like this.”
The new home may be a new start for the Umble family, but it also helped shed a spotlight on Baber’s future goals as well.
“I really want to start a small business restoring furniture,” said Baber. “It’s a passion I’ve always had and I just like the idea of giving something someone wasn’t going to use and restoring it again.”
For more information about on Habitat for Humanity of Greater Bangor, including upcoming volunteer opportunities, visit habitatbangor.org.