Amsterdam family gets wish with help from Habitat for Humanity – The Daily Gazette


AMSTERDAM – When the house across from her parents’ house was seized by the city, Megan Chichester thought with a little elbow grease that this might be her chance to give her six children a home of their own.

The single mother and her children had seen the empty houses around them in Amsterdam slowly deteriorate over the years and thought they could maybe put the love and care in one of the buildings to make it theirs. House.

When it turned out that the house she was interested in could no longer be saved due to its poor condition, fate apparently stepped in to give the family the gift they were looking for just in time for the holiday season. year.

Amsterdam administrative assistant Michelle Jackson, who sits on the board of directors for Habitat for Humanity in Montgomery County, has heard of Chichester. The council was looking for a family looking for a house that would need more than a little maintenance.

“If you don’t believe everything happens for a reason, start believing,” said Heather Lopez, another board member and chair of the Resource Development Committee.

Hoping that a new family would have the chance to make memories in his 58-year-old home, Joseph Gavel donated the property at 2 Thomas Street to Habitat for Humanity in August 2019 when he downsized after to have maintained alone the house for two families. a challenge for the 90-year-old.

Habitat volunteers have carried out an initial cleaning of the house, preparing it for an upcoming renovation which will include the participation of the family selected to receive the house. The organization began searching for a family in early 2020 before plans were put on hold by the pandemic.

The local nonprofit was finally gearing up to begin work on the house with a family this year when unforeseen circumstances thwarted those plans. In search of a new family, Chichester and her children seemed to be the perfect fit when Jackson told his story on the board.

“We knew he was someone we wanted to partner with,” said Gabriel Lopez, chairman of the board.

Chichester reviewed the request and was officially approved to receive the house the day before Thanksgiving.

When she got a voicemail message from Gabriel after she had finished everything, Chichester was too nervous to listen to her and called him back instead. The good news she received made her cry.

“It’s like a breath of fresh air, like a big heavyweight has been lifted,” Chichester said.

Afterward, she called a family reunion to share the good news with her children. Their fears that she was about to tell them that they had been denied were immediately addressed.

“They cried,” Chichester recalls. “They said, ‘wow, is that real? Is it really ours? “

The family of seven with children aged one to 14 live with the Chichester parents in a nearby house which is unsurprisingly overcrowded. The family were delighted to hear that at the start of the holidays they will soon have their own home for the first time.

Chichester has said her children are her priority. Working as a quality inspector for Aetna Electric in Clifton Park, she said every day is coming home with her kids.

“To be able to give my children what they want, a feeling of hope, of comfort, of security, of a feeling that they are at home,” Chichester said. “I don’t even have words. It’s incredible.”

The family first visited the house a week ago, making the walk in about three minutes from the parents’ house in Chichester just around the corner.

“It’s heartwarming,” Chichester said of staying close to her parents as she had originally hoped.

“It was a happy coincidence,” said Gabriel Lopez.

Exploring their future home and seeing its potential filled Chichester and her children with excitement. His eldest son pointed out the exposed beams in the first floor kitchen. He hopes they will be kept intact as the house renovates over the next few months. The original pewter ceilings in the dining room and the pocket doors were other highlights that will hopefully remain.

“They couldn’t stop talking about it,” Chichester said.

There is a lot of work to be done before the family can move in. Old linoleum floors throughout the paint-splattered building need to be replaced and the walls to be repainted. Aging cabinets and appliances need to be replaced. The family will have a say and guide choices throughout the process to ensure they end up with a home they are happy to live in.

While having a structurally strong shell should allow the renovation project to move forward faster than building a new home from scratch, Jim Burroughs, chairman of the construction committee, admits there is uncertainty over. which will be discovered as the work progresses.

The two-family home will be converted to a single-family residence with the separate entrances at the front to be combined into a single home. Although the building currently has four bedrooms, Burroughs hopes to create at least one more upstairs during renovations.

Skilled laborers will be called in to help with the necessary plumbing and electrical work, although Burroughs noted that the close-knit community of local contractors are often willing to volunteer their time to help.

Most of the work will be done by members of the nonprofit and community volunteers, as well as by Chichester and the Children. Families selected by Habitat for Humanity to receive a home must complete 400 hours of sweat capital on their own home and future projects to be eligible for the home which they are paying off with a 0% mortgage. The family can’t wait to get started on the project.

“They keep asking when can we start,” Chichester said.

Despite the chores that must be done to make the house a home for his family, Chichester is not discouraged.

Growing up in North Carolina, the Chichester family lived in a house where they worked on extensive renovations for about 10 years. It was exciting to learn and practice new home improvement skills every week, she recalls.

This early experience gave him the confidence to originally try to buy foreclosure property in the city, even though work on his childhood home was never completed.

“This one will be done,” reassured Gabriel Lopez.

After all, the family will have a dedicated group of community volunteers by their side when the renovations begin early next year, who are equally excited to see the family start fresh in their new home this spring.

“There is nothing better than knowing that you are helping,” said Heather Lopez.

“It gives you energy, motivation,” said Gabriel Lopez.

Contact Ashley Onyon at [email protected] or @AshleyOnyon on Twitter.

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