Single mom is ‘so deserving’ |

Single mom is ‘so deserving’

Patrick Parkinson, Of the Record staff

The American dream became a reality for Kamas residents Neina and 5-year-old Gabriella Orrillo when Habitat for Humanity for Wasatch and Summit Counties broke ground Saturday on what will become the single mother’s new home.

"You know what she told me, ‘Mom, I’ll have my own washer and dryer,’" Kamas resident Shauna Fivas, Orrillo’s mother, said tearfully.

Soon Gabriella will have a yard to play in, "instead of out in that parking lot at the low-income apartments," Fivas beamed.

"I’m ecstatic," she said. "I’m so excited for her. She is so deserving."

Qualifying for the home meant Orrillo needed to earn between $18,000 and $31,000 per year, which is between 30 and 50 percent of the average income for Wasatch and Summit counties.

Plus, Orrillo must provide at least 350 hours of "sweat equity" while the house is built, explained Julie Bernhard, executive director of Habitat for Humanity for Summit and Wasatch Counties.

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"We’re building a home for a needy family," Bernhard said. "There is a definite need."

Orrillo’s new 1,300-square-foot home will include three bedrooms and a 528-square-foot garage, according to Bernhard.

For this project, located in the Grassy Creek subdivision, residents in Wasatch County were allowed to apply because about 120 people were recently displaced from a trailer park in Heber, she said, adding that "we’re working closely with Heber City right now."

Meanwhile, people from Wasatch County-based Desert Snow Construction will frame Orrillo’s new home and serve as the project’s general contractor.

"A lot of companies will donate materials for Habitat for Humanity, and a lot of the labor will be donated," said Shane Olson, who is overseeing the project for Desert Snow. "We’re donating the framing labor."

Olson says he expects around 15 volunteers from the Park City Board of Realtors to help build the house on Saturdays.

"I’m excited to do it," he said. "They’ll be up there pounding the nails by hand."

On Saturday, Curtis Muir, of Muir Excavating in Heber, dug a hole that will become the foundation for Orrillo’s new house.

Rapidly escalating real estate prices are squeezing people out of home ownership in Summit County and acquiring land in the ritzy resort area for Habitat homes is difficult, lamented Debbie Hoffmeyer, board chairwoman for Habitat for Humanity in Wasatch and Summit Counties.

"Our toughest challenge is that we’ve never, ever had anybody give us land," Hoffmeyer said, adding that the property in Kamas was purchased for the asking price.

Besides Orrillo, eight other people applied for the home in Kamas, Hoffmeyer said, adding that Orrillo was chosen by the Habitat’s family selection committee.

Still, she insists the house is not a "hand out" because of work Orrillo will perform on the home.

"It’s a hand up," Hoffmeyer said. "It’s a life-changing opportunity for someone who otherwise couldn’t own their own home."

With no other homes under construction, members of the local chapter of Habitat for Humanity are attempting to obtain land in Wasatch County for more homes, Hoffmeyer said.

This is the first project Bernhard has overseen since she recently took over Habitat for Humanity.

"This would not have happened today without [Bernhard]," Hoffmeyer said, praising the group’s new director. "She is the greatest."

Since 1995, Habitat for Humanity has built seven homes in Summit and Wasatch counties to provide homes for 18 children and 10 adults.