Monday, December 27, 2004


Senior Airman Jessica Thebeau and Senior Master Sgt. Mary Gill were among approximately 50 Air Force personnel and family members who volunteered yesterday for the Self-Help Housing project.

A breath of fresh air

Volunteers come to the rescue
of a single mother trying to finish
building her home in Ewa

The cavalry has come to the rescue of Deborah Hinton and 15 other families in Ewa Beach who are exhausted from almost a year of building their own homes and working full-time jobs.

In November the Star-Bulletin wrote about Hinton, a single mother who was trying to recruit volunteers to help her finish her home and the homes of other residents in Ewa Villages.

As part of a program under the Self-Help Housing Corp. of Hawaii, the homeowners have until February to finish the houses as required by their construction loan contract. Everyone works on all the houses, one stage at a time, under the "mass construction" program.

About 45 people have responded to the call for help, but there are many more ready to help.

"Everybody was really, really happy," Hinton said, when the 45 signed up.

But that was just the beginning. Now, 115 volunteers from Hickam Air Force Base, about half of whom started at the construction site yesterday, will help with construction on every weekend in January.

"I am really overwhelmed" by the response, said Hinton, whose job as a nursery school aide allowed her only weekends and holidays to try to meet the corporation's requirement of 32 hours of construction work per family per week.

She was always short of meeting the quota.

Volunteers from Hickam Air Force Base, about half of whom started at the construction site in Ewa Villages yesterday, will continue every weekend in January. Senior Airmen Sarah Shutes and Joshua Scherette helped with construction yesterday.

G. Andrade Silva, a loan officer with the corporation, said the volunteer assistance "is the breath of fresh air" the families desperately needed.

"You have no idea of the burden that has been lifted from their shoulders," Silva added.

Another single mother, Terry Kinores, said: "We are exhausted. You wouldn't believe how tired we are. We start at 7:15 a.m. and end at 6 p.m. every weekend and holiday."

Most residents hold full-time jobs, she said, and everyone is "just amazed" and "grateful that people would come out of their way to help people who they don't even know."

And they are also "relieved that we're gonna finish" on time, with volunteers showing up even on weekdays.

Kinores, who has two young children, said the team started about two months behind schedule because "the loans weren't closing fast enough," and the cement strike at the beginning of the year caused more delay, in addition to other problems.

But like the others on her team, Kinores said she made the one-year commitment to hard labor because "there ain't no way on earth I could get a four-bedroom, two-bath home" if she hadn't signed up with the Self-Help Housing program.

Sgt. Joanne Reed is the unofficial liaison and organizer of the Hickam volunteers. She heard about the need from Hinton's friend, Lia Burton, and her husband, Tom, both retired Hickam employees. Reed and the other military personnel are helping out on their personal time.

She had expected 20 to 25 volunteers but was surprised by the number who signed up, Reed said.

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