Ten years ago, Kaci Jo Alderin's family was able to purchase a home with assistance from Bend Area Habitat for Humanity. Now she is raising money so she can travel to Trinidad & Tobago this fall to help another family achieve the same goal.
When Sophie Paez, ReStore executive director and a friend, first suggested a service trip, Alderin was 14 and too young to qualify. "Though I wasn't old enough yet, I really wanted to give another family the opportunity to own a home. We are pretty lucky to live here in Bend and there are many who don't have the same luxuries we do."
When she and her mother, Tambi Lane, moved into their Bend Area Habitat home, Alderin says, "Just having turned six years old, I don't remember much. I do remember finally getting my own room and knowing we would be able to stay at this house as long as we wanted. Most of my childhood memories are living in this house. My mom worked hard to make it our home."
Lane, who owns Tambi Lane Photography, discovered Habitat just after moving to Bend in 2003. She reflects, "My living situation was not ideal, and I hoped to find a stable home I could afford for my two kids. I thought it was a long shot, but at that point I had nothing else to lose, so I went through the extensive application process, put the earliest date on the calendar, and hoped for the best." She was working three jobs at the time.
When Lane learned that her family qualified for aid for a home, she remembers, "I was absolutely beside myself. A lot of people think homes are given, but in fact each family has to work hard. I personally completed a minimum of 400 hours of sweat equity over two years, participated in an IDA (Individual Development Account) savings program, and I have a mortgage just like everyone else."
She and Alderin continue to make home improvements. Lane says, "When you're the one who installed the drywall, you learn to take a lot of pride in your home."
Now 16, Alderin is ecstatic to give back by participating in the Bend Area Habitat for Humanity Global Village trip set for early November. The team, led by local Habitat Family Services Manager Deedee Johnson and Finance Manager Amber Morey, will consist of up to 12 volunteers who will stay in accommodations near the Port of Spain while helping a Trinidad family build their own home. Alderin, who is working this summer at Camp Sherman's Kokanee Cafe, has raised $670 toward the $1,800 required for the trip. An anonymous donor has contributed to the cause, sharing how impactful similar trips were for his now grown children and expressing a desire to make global volunteer opportunities more accessible to youth.
Habitat for Humanity's Global Village program gives volunteers an opportunity to build homes or provide home repair services for families around the world who are in a similar situation to Lane and Alderin, explains Robin Cooper Engle, director of development for Bend Area Habitat. In the last 10 years, locally led international Habitat trips have ventured to Guatemala, Costa Rica, Honduras, Nicaragua, and the Dominican Republic.
"We recruit locals who have an interest to serve and build homes for low income people in foreign countries," notes Cooper Engle. "We look for people who understand our trips are not vacations but an opportunity to make a difference outside our own country. The trips are filled with wonderful cultural and culinary experiences. At 18, I had my first in-country mission trip. It was eye-opening and will forever remain a defining experience."
Alderin is thankful to everyone who has contributed - or will contribute - to her trip. She hopes this is just the start of travel, experiencing new cultures, helping others in need, and getting a better perspective on her own life in the context of the rest of the world. She is accepting donations via a GoFundMe campaign at www.gofundme.com/trinidadtabago. The Armature will also host a benefit concert with a $5 cover on Aug. 12 featuring Moon Room, Gonzo, and Two Dollar Bill.