HANFORD — The pandemic meant there were changes to procedures for Habitat for Humanity, but they haven’t stopped their work — in fact, the Tulare/Kings counties branch just opened its first house in Hanford since the start of COVID-19, following 10 months of construction.

On Saturday, Habitat for Humanity passed the keys of the new house on Cameron Street to Victor Gray, Danielle Solorio and their son, Evan. As part of his partnership with Habitat for Humanity, Gray contributed more than 500 hours of “sweat equity” in construction work. The nonprofit started in June, taking special precautions to meet social distancing guidelines for the 75 volunteers who helped build the house.

“Our real focus during COVID was to see how we could raise walls and build a home during that time,” said Resource Development Director Deanna Saldana. “But we are thrilled to be able to get as many community members out as we did.”

About 40 members of the Hanford community came to celebrate the moving, including Mayor Francisco Ramirez and Jared Bailey of Grocery Outlet, who filled the family's pantry as a welcoming gift.

“The project was our light at the end of the tunnel during the pandemic,” Saldana added. “With COVID-19 protocols in place, volunteers worked on the house alongside the new homeowners and continued Habitat’s mission of building homes, communities and hope.”

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