Everyone wins at Habitat blessing

ELEELE — Shana-Marie Cruz is looking forward to the summer when her home in the Eleele Iluna subdivision begins to take shape.

“We’ve known for a while,” Cruz said. “We’ve started to have monthly homeowner meetings, and I can see progress. The Kauai Habitat for Humanity set up this event to start our sweat equity where we are here volunteering with the blessing.”

Thursday, Cruz, other homeowners, and special guests converged at the Eleele Iluna subdivision to celebrate the completion of the infrastructure and celebrate the start of the home building. Eleele Iluna is projected to have 107 to 112 homes, said Milani Pimental, Kauai Habitat for Humanity development director.

“Mine is going either here, or here,” said Nick Wehrly, a Kauai habitat homeowner-in-training, pointing to the spots where his home could go. “There’re only two two-bedroom models in this initial 10 builds, so mine is going to be one of those. I’ve already started my sweat equity by spending time mowing the grass on this project. It’s been raining so the grass grows fast.”

Helping launch the construction phase, the Kauai Board of Realtors arranged for a golf ball drop to raise funds for the Kauai Habitat for Humanity as well as the Kauai Lifeguard Association.

Guests left the safety of the tents for a closer look at the drop over a home lot marked with a ReStore banner flapping in the morning breeze.

Julian Coiner of the Kauai Board of Realtors, coordinator of the drop, said they got a lot of help from Inkspot Printing, Jack Harter Helicopters, the Poipu Bay Golf Course, and others. This allowed the Kauai Board of Realtors to present a $10,000 award to Kauai habitat and $8,300 to the Kauai Lifeguard Association, earmarked to get the junior lifeguards to the Big Island, where they will be competing for the 12th consecutive state title later this summer.

Stephen Spears, the Kauai habitat executive director, announced Naomi Taylor as the recipient of the $1,000 winnings for having the winning golf ball.

“Naomi is the daughter of Realtor Judy Shiroma of Hawaii Life Real Estate Brokers,” said Toni Ishimoto of the Kauai Board of Realtors. “Naomi was so awesome and will donate her winnings to the Kapaaa High School senior Project Grad project. What a wonderful gesture.”

Spears said the Kauai habitat has been biting away at the Eleele Iluna project for some time, taking on small chunks of the project.

“It’s been a long project,” Spears said. “We got help from the county’s housing agency along the way, and have the $3 million for the first 40 homes. We are looking at starting the next phase some time next spring, at an estimated cost of $2.5 million. The gift from the Kauai Board of Realtors goes to help get this project going.”

Kamuela Cobbs Adam, the county’s housing agency director, said the true value is having habitat here on Kauai.

“They offer homeowners a ladder instead of a hammock,” Cobbs Adam said. “Homeowners, through sweat equity, work for their home. The skills they learn along the way help them to care for the home. Homeowners spend their weekends working on their homes for about a year, but end up with about $100,000 in equity and a place the kids can call home. Self-help is one of the best types of project a person can participate in.”

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