The story was originally published in the Peninsula Clarion.

Walter and Ashley Gage, a construction worker and stay-at-home mother, said a new home would mean everything to them. For the couple and their three young children, their American dream is becoming a reality after Central Peninsula Habitat for Humanity chose them as the partner family on the group’s most recent project.

Central Peninsula Habitat for Humanity received two $15,000 grants from Wells Fargo — and volunteer time of bank employees from Kenai and Soldotna to build a new home for the Gages in Kenai and fix-up a nearby home for another family. This is the first time the bank has worked with the housing organization on the Kenai.

“It’s a huge deal, we are so happy about it,” said Carri Rossini, executive director of Central Peninsula Habitat for Humanity.

The Central Peninsula chapter follows the same goals as its international umbrella organization, which is to help lower-middle-class people and their families have a better quality of life, Rossini said. “This is a hand up, not a handout,” she said.

Habitat for Humanity chooses a partner family for each home through an application process. The organization offers the family a home at cost, with a 25- to a 30-year mortgage at no interest. In return, the partner family must dedicate at least 500 sweat-equity hours toward the home.

It was just over a month ago when the Gages found out they were chosen for the home. Since then, they’ve already invested more than 120 hours into building the home, including installing trim, cabinetry and painting.

“It’s super exciting to be a part of [the building process],” Ashley Gage said.

The home is about 1,100 square feet and has three bedrooms and two bathrooms.

Volunteers will continue working on the project homes Thursday, and then again June 19. They plan to finish before fall. The housing organization has built more than 20 homes on the peninsula over the years.Habitat 2

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