THURSDAY, Jan. 24 — Habitat for Humanity Lansing welcomed the Bonds family into their new home on Forest Avenue during a home dedication ceremony on Saturday. Friends, volunteers and other community supporters attended to celebrate the home’s completion.
When Tresa Bonds heard a Habitat for Humanity ad on the radio one day in August, she had no idea it would lead to her family of seven being able to move into a brand-new 1,800 square foot home. The family was selected for Habitat for Humanity Lansing's home project on Forest Avenue through its homeownership program.
“Our family and our kids are growing and they need more space,” Bonds said. “We live in an 800-square-foot ranch style house with three bedrooms and one bath. The boys are double-bunked in one room. We knew we had to do something. There’s one bathroom for seven people — every day it’s always an argument.”
With the effort of the local community, volunteers and lots of hard work, the Bonds family — parents Tyrone and Tresa, their 11-year-old quadruplets and 10-year-old son — is preparing to move into the new home this March. The Forest Avenue home’s foundation was poured back in May as 100 area women, during a Women Build event, worked together to build the outside walls. By the end of the week, the women completed the exterior of the home. Since then, several local organizations and volunteers have contributed to the completion of the home.
The Bonds family also put in their own sweat equity. Homeowners are required to invest 200-400 hours into building their home and other Habitat homes and to take classes on home ownership. Even the kids worked on the home. Tresa Bonds said that when the children received A’s or B’s in school, they could turn them in for hours. Two of her boys even gave up soccer for a time to help complete the family’s hours.
“I started with Habitat for Humanity Lansing in 1992. I got involved because I love to build,” said Bob Fortino, volunteer with Habitat for Humanity Lansing and retired mental health worker with Community Mental Health. “I started out in construction so I had a good skill set coming in. You get to share your skills and teach people. When it gets in your blood, you can’t leave. It’s so great to see someone who has been in substandard housing get a decent house — that’s the thrill.”
Habitat houses aren't free; home buyers work with Habitat to create a permanent solution to their housing struggles. They purchase their homes with a nonprofit mortgage offered by Habitat, which helps make their monthly mortgage payments affordable. They are also required to pay closing costs. Corporate and nonprofit partners help to offset the costs of the build. A financial donation from Thrivent Financial, the largest non-governmental supporter of Habitat for Humanity nationwide, made the Forest Avenue home project possible.
“In 2015, we supported a Thrivent Builds home. Shelby Butler, a Thrivent Financial representative, worked closely with the Lansing Habitat for Humanity affiliate to participate in the build of this home,” said Linda Jabas, community engagement leader for southwest Michigan at Thrivent Financial. “She builds the relationships with the local people and with the local affiliate and brings in volunteers who want to participate in the build.”
Other community partners include Accident Fund Insurance Co., Such Media, Lowe’s, Wells Fargo, WLNS, Lansing Board of Water and Light, Adams Outdoor Advertising and Immaculate Heart of Mary Church.