Habitat for Humanity Collaborates with Community to Build Thirty New Homes in Parkland

-First Published on Discover Parkland

Joel Zylstra
Photo by Jesse Major

Habitat for Humanity has chosen Parkland to be the site of their newest development. According to the Tacoma/Pierce County Habitat office, the development “The Woods” will be Habitat’s largest development to date.

The Tacoma/Pierce County Habitat office states that construction for the infrastructure of thirty new homes, a community center, community garden, sports field, and wetland area began in late summer 2012. The new community will be located on 104th St. E and Golden Given Road, about 1.5 miles from PLU’s campus.

Students, faculty, and staff at Pacific Lutheran University looking to get involved in the Parkland community are also combining their efforts to fundraise and build one of the thirty homes in “The Woods” community.

In addition to being a positive change for the Parkland Community, PLU’s new partnership with the local Tacoma affiliate of Habitat for Humanity has started to grab more students’ attention as well. Many PLU students were in attendance on Tuesday for the kickoff event for the build.

On his reason for attending the event, Sophomore Doug Smith stated, “Habitat is a good way to get involved in the community and a way to organize PLU to act… if only a few people do it there’s not as much of an impact. But if we can get everyone involved it can make a difference.”

Maggie Mickelson, a senior at PLU and an active Campus Ministry Steward said, “Students and faculty being active in the community is a good way to take ownership of our responsibility to Parkland and have tangible experience in the community.”

Joel Zylstra, the Director Center for Community Engagement and Service at PLU has high hopes for PLU’s involvement with Habitat and hopes that this will promote further involvement with students in the Parkland Community.

PLU students, faculty, and staff gathered in the Regency Room to learn more about the Habitat for Humanity Build. Photo by Cassady Coulter

“This is a campus-wide approach… the hope today is that we can get more people involved,” he stated at the kickoff event on Tuesday, February 26. If fundraising efforts go as planned, the build should start sometime early-mid August.

PLU is expected to contribute $10,000 to build the home and Zylstra hopes that this fundraising goal can be accomplished by May 31. Thrivent Financial for Lutherans has also been one of the primary contributors for the fundraising for PLU’s house in “The Woods.”

Guy Ellison, a Partner in the Regional Financial Office of Thrivent Financial, stated that Thrivent is the largest corporate sponsor for Habitat for 8 years and has built 2000 homes built in the United States, 1000 internationally.

“We have put 165 million dollars back into communities we care about,” Ellison announced.

Maureen Fife, Executive Director / CEO, Tacoma/Pierce County Habitat for Humanity, and one of the minds behind of the vision for the new development noted the uniqueness of Habitat’s work at the kickoff event held at PLU on Tuesday.

Once a family is selected to live in the Woods, they essentially get to custom-design their home. The aesthetics are all up to the family, right down to the details of the color scheme.

“We don’t build the house until we have the family. We build the house to fit the family,” Fife stated. She also stresses the essential aspect that is significant to “The Woods” at Golden Given is the sense of community she hopes will surface there.

“We want to try and connect people to build a community,” she said. In addition to the community center, garden, and sports field, covered porches are also a part of that vision. This design is intended to encourage community engagement and time spent getting to know neighbors.

“Green” construction practices are also a unique trait of the Parkland development. Fife mentioned bamboo and tile floors and energy efficient appliances as just a few of the environmentally friendly items included in the new homes.

Additionally, “The Woods” will be participating in an energy study with Tacoma Power that will involve the installation of dual heating systems in all of the homes.

Tacoma Power will collect data about the efficiency of the heating systems after a year and use this information to potentially change the energy code in the state of Washington.

The development of thirty new homes and the new community aspect of “The Woods” at Golden Given is a long process. When aiming for a big goal such as this one, it can take time to see visible results.

M Fife
Photo by Jesse Major

However, Habitat for Humanity International states that, “Good housing attracts economic investment and development, contributes to thriving school systems an community organizations, [is] a catalyst for civic activism and a stimulus for community-based organizations, [and] safe homes and neighborhoods help to build social stability and security.”

Taking this mission and using it to engage generations of the PLU family and Parkland residents in the community could be an essential step in creating a big wave of change for Parkland.

To learn more information about how to get involved in the Habitiat for Humanity Build, go to: http://www.plu.edu/service or call:

(253) 535-7652


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