Story shows Union County at its best
La Grande and its surrounding communities have never been short on smart, energetic people filled with compassion. There’s a long list of volunteer-driven organizations, programs and activities that work for folks who have a less-than-even chance to share in the American Dream.
The list is too long to enumerate here, but Rotary International, the Lions Club, Community Action Network, the annual Relay for Life, Court Appointed Special Advocates, the Soroptimist Club, Neighbor-to-Neighbor Ministries and some others come immediately to mind.
Then there’s Grande Ronde Habitat for Humanity. Especially, there’s Grande Ronde Habitat for Humanity. Nothing demonstrates caring and generosity quite like a group of people taking up hammers and saws, raising a house for a neighbor in need, doing it for the sheer pleasure of it and not a dime in pay.
Habitat volunteers have built nine houses in the county the last dozen years, providing a hand up for low-income families who otherwise might never qualify for home ownership. Those who are chosen for the program do have to take out a low interest loan, but the savings are substantial, the buy made possible, because the labor is donated.
This year, just in time for the holidays, Pauline Linde and her six children moved into a five-bedroom Habitat for Humanity home. Over a seven month period, volunteers ramrodded by contractor Burr Betts — another volunteer — came to the North Pine Street construction site Wednesdays and Saturdays, giving freely of their time to make this dream come true.
In the spirit of the thing, others jumped in to help. Members of Valley Fellowship spent a day painting, and Grocery Outlet in Island City filled a pantry with canned food. Linde herself worked hard, logging almost 300 hours on the project.
The end result? Linde and her children moved into a home of their own after four years of staying with Linde’s parents. The big payoff? Those kids live now in a stable, secure environment. They’re far more likely to grow up and become good and decent members of the community.
The story of the Linde family and Habitat for Humanity is a joyous one this holiday season, in contrast to a series of sad events we’ve heard of from afar. It shows Union County at its best, and proves again that for as long as people live here, hope and dream and struggle here, there are others who are willing to help.