HANFORD — The story of Daniel Hernandez was on Dirk Holkeboer’s mind Tuesday morning inside an empty building on the corner of Lacey Boulevard and Santa Fe Avenue in Hanford.
Holkeboer, executive director of Habitat for Humanity of Tulare/Kings Counties, said Hernandez’s family was a recipient of a Habitat for Humanity home about 12 years ago.
After interning with the organization last year, Holkeboer said Hernandez is about to graduate from college and is well on his way to achieving his dream of becoming an architect and designing affordable homes for low-income families.
Those are the kinds of success stories Holkeboer envisions when he thinks about the lasting effects Habitat for Humanity has on the community and the families they serve.
Habitat for Humanity is based on the idea that everyone deserves to have a decent place to live, Holkeboer said. He said the organization focuses on first-time home ownership through community partnership.
“We work on the idea that most people need a hand up, not a hand-out,” Holkeboer said. “That’s one of our slogans.”
Holkeboer said about a year and a half ago, Habitat for Humanity of Tulare County’s service area expanded and became Habitat for Humanity of Tulare/Kings Counties. Because of the expansion, he said the organization wanted to have a presence in Kings County, which has led to a new ReStore to be located in Hanford.
The ReStore is essentially a home improvement thrift store. Holkeboer said donations of new and used items related to the home, including appliances, furniture, windows and doors, cabinets, light fixtures, tools and other items are sold at the store.
The organization currently has a ReStore location in Visalia at 637 S. Lovers Lane. The Hanford ReStore will be located at 415 W. Lacey Blvd. The building has been vacant for a few years, but is probably known by most people for being White’s Music Center before its closure in 2009.
Holkeboer said the money from the sale of the ReStore items is used to support Habitat for Humanity’s home ownership and home repair programs.
In the home ownership program, Holkeboer said community volunteers come together with future homeowners and push up walls, paint, landscape and basically just build a house together.
He said the future home owner commits at least 500 hours of “sweat equity” to their future home and purchases the home from Habitat for Humanity when the house is complete. The organization makes the homes affordable to low-income families by offering a long-term zero-interest mortgage, Holkeboer said.
Along with new construction, Holkeboer said Habitat for Humanity also does acquisition and rehabilitation on homes. He said the pattern with these homes are the same: community volunteers work with future homeowners to create a decent, safe, stable and affordable home for families to live.
Holkeboer said the program has a transformational effect that provides a place where a family can grow and be secure in their home.
The organization also has a home repair program for current homeowners who lack the financial or physical ability to maintain their home. Holkeboer said most of the people the organization works with in this particular program are seniors.
He said the home repair program entails everything from landscaping and painting to wheelchair ramps and other accessibility modifications. He said these are efforts to keep the homeowners in a safe and secure home so they can continue to live there.
Holkeboer said Habitat for Humanity has completed 65 projects in the Tulare County and Kings County areas over the years. He said there are four homeowners in Hanford who renovated their homes through Habitat for Humanity’s program in past years.
“The beauty of it is that it’s not a housing solution for the night or the month or the year; it’s a permanent, long-term solution for that family,” Holkeboer said.
He said the organization recently closed on the acquisition of a lot at the corner of Kaweah Street and West Cameron Street in Hanford for its next project.
“Sometime by early fall we expect to be putting out the call for community volunteers to come alongside our future owner and build the next Habitat house,” Holkeboer said.
Holkeboer said Habitat for Humanity is committed to its entire service area, including Kings County, and is looking for volunteers, donations, and the opportunity to partner with service clubs, churches, businesses and individuals who are looking to make an investment in the community through their programs.
“We think Hanford and Kings County is a wonderful place to grow,” Holkeboer said.
Right now, the ReStore is still in the process of renovation and still needs some drywall patching and shelving. An official grand opening hasn’t been announced yet, but Holkeboer said he hopes it will be ready and open for public business in about two or three weeks.
Some of the first supplies for sale will come from the current ReStore warehouse in Visalia, Holkeboer said, but donations are always welcome.
“We just want to be open,” Holkeboer said, adding the ReStore will most likely be open Wednesday-Saturday.