After two years of helping build Habitat For Humanity homes, Steve Friday is hoping next year will be the year he helps build his own home...

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After two years of helping build Habitat For Humanity homes, Steve Friday is hoping next year will be the year he helps build his own home.

And Habitat for Humanity of East King County is hoping an end-of-the-year donation drive will help bring in the money to construct his and other homes.

“Habitat is the only way to own a home for a person in my situation,” said Friday, a single father of three who lives in Fall City. His family was selected two years ago for Habitat’s Snoqualmie Ridge development.

“You work your whole life; you want to own your own home,” he said. “What Habitat does is give people in my situation a chance to have something of their own.”

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Friday’s home is among those that Habitat is working to procure funding for, but donations have dropped off in recent months. Since September, the Eastside’s Habitat affiliate has seen fundraising for rebuilding homes for Hurricane Katrina victims outpace fundraising for local home-construction projects.

Locally, between Sept. 1 and mid-December, Habitat has received or has been pledged $255,000 to help rebuild homes in the Gulf Coast region. During that period, Habitat has raised about $232,442 for building homes on the Eastside.

To encourage donors to give locally, two Habitat board members and a donor have pooled their money for a matching program. Any donations made to the Eastside Habitat affiliate through the end of the year will be matched — up to a total of $50,000. The program has matched more than $15,000 in donations, and Habitat is hoping the next week will bring in more donations so some long-awaited projects can be completed.

How to donate


Online:habitatekc.org/

Donating.htm

By mail: Habitat for Humanity of East King County, P.O. Box 0817, Redmond, WA 98073-0817

“The impact of what happened in September is that apparently people have been redirecting their gifts in support of Katrina [rebuilding efforts],” said Dave Thompson, vice president of the Habitat of East King County. Thompson is one of the three people pooling their money to match donations. The other two wish to remain anonymous.

“If funds are being diverted to Katrina, then people locally are essentially becoming victims of Katrina, too,” Thompson said. “We’re hoping to motivate people and explain that the need is greater this year. So if you give one, we’ll give one alongside of you.”

The best situation is when would-be donors work for a company that matches charitable contributions, because $2 will be matched for every $1 donated, he said.

Overall, Habitat was having a stellar year with local fundraising until September, said Sarah Schieron, development director for Habitat of East King County.

January through August, Habitat raised $784,871, or about 44 percent more than the $544,156 raised during the same period in 2004. But then Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast. Habitat raised 1.4 percent less after the hurricane than it did in the same period the previous year.

“I’m still holding out hope that the donations will pick up,” Schieron said. “December is a generous time of year, and December is a make-it-or-break-it kind of month for us.”

Habitat for Humanity International is the 19th-largest homebuilder in the United States, Schieron said. On the Eastside, Habitat builds an average of eight homes a year and plans to complete 11 homes in 2006, she said.

Other local affiliates, such as Habitat for Humanity of Seattle/South King County also have seen donations drop this year but have not seen Katrina funds outpace fundraising for local construction.

While it seems Katrina has had an impact on the amount individuals have been giving, it’s hard to determine how much, said Sandra Lynch Holmes, director of development for the Seattle Habitat affiliate.

“But the typical donation size is less this year, and the number of donations” is down, she said.

It’s not a matter of not wanting people to donate to help Katrina victims, it’s a matter of not forgetting the people in their own community who need help, Schieron said.

For Habitat families, waiting for a new home is like waiting several years for Christmas, but the wait is worth it, Friday said.

“We’re shooting to spend Christmas in the new house next year,” Friday said.

To which his children responded with a resounding: “Yeaaaaaay!”

Rachel Tuinstra: 206-515-5637 or rtuinstra@seattletimes.com