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April 24, 2019 will go down in Habitat history. From the dedicated crowd of affordable housing advocates who woke up early and turned out in high numbers, to esteemed speakers who invoked a new sense of awareness of the importance of homeownership and community, to the generosity of folks who broke bread and records with us at our HopeBuilder Breakfast, everyone joined together to raise a total of $502,669 that will go directly into building or repairing affordable homes for people right here in Portland. It was an incredibly powerful morning buzzing with the collective energy of a community who wants to be part of the housing solution.

As a 15-year Habitat for Humanity supporter and Ambassador Council member Nina Byrd put it, “Habitat is not really about building homes, it is about building community,” and she couldn’t have been more right. Habitat’s mission is to not only partner with local families and individuals to build affordable homes, it is also about creating strong and lasting communities where people can thrive in homes that will remain affordable for generations to come. That morning, speakers from across our city came together to share their stories of how stable housing has impacted themselves and their families.

“With our housing struggle over, I have been able to move toward my other dreams,” Habitat homeowner Lluvia Morello said. “In the last year, I have started a small business called, Indigenous Come Up, where young adults who have survived government and tribal systems can be creative and explore career opportunities.”

Lluvia’s strength and perseverance is evidence of what we all know to be true: when given the opportunity to build a stable life, people are able to flourish and make investments in their community. The same goes for Cheryl Strayed’s sister, Karen, who overcame all odds and now owns a Habitat home in Florida.

“Habitat saved my sister’s life,” Cheryl Strayed, author of The New York Times #1 bestselling memoir, WILD, said. “Now she has something to leave for her children. We’re not just talking about helping that person who needs help right now—that is a really worthy cause. What we’re talking about is changing the world generationally.”

This could not be truer for homebuyers Heather and James Lewis and their children, who joined the morning’s festivities. This year they’ll leave their cramped apartment in Northeast Portland and move into their brand new home in the Cully neighborhood. They said it’s important that they’re able to raise their children in a community where they grew up while creating a better life together.

“I came from a very poor family that never had their own home,” James said. “So it’s going to be great to be the first person in my family to own their own home. It feels very overwhelming that I’ve come this far.”

As we enter into our busiest building season yet, we plan to triple the number of people we serve every year–people just like Heather and James who are seeking the opportunity to establish themselves and make roots right here in Portland.

“At Habitat for Humanity, we are creating a Portland where everyone—no matter who you are or where you come from—can have an affordable place to call home,” CEO Steve Messinetti declared. “Folks, Portland is rising, but if you agree that everyone should be rising with it, then we’ve got work to do.”

With your helping hands, we can all help our city rise together. Because of the generous support of our community who woke up early to gather in unity, more Portlanders will have the opportunity to build a better life. We cannot thank each and every person who dedicated their time, voice, and treasure enough for coming out to rally for affordable homeownership. If you were not able to attend and would like to positively impact our community, please consider donating today.

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