Eleele Iluna moving along

ELEELE — Habitat for Humanity doesn’t build homes.

It builds hope, said Leona Sa McDermott of Anahola during the Kauai Chamber of Commerce Business After Hours at the Eleele Iluna neighborhood.

“I’m coming to the Kauai Habitat for Humanity and Lowe’s National Women Build Week, April 30,” said McDermott, a Kauai Habitat for Humanity homeowner and a board member. “I challenge women to come and participate.”

The National Women Build Week, the ninth annual, will take place April 30 through May 8 from 8:30 a.m. until 3 p.m. with work being done primarily with homes going up in the Eleele Iluna neighborhood, said Milani Pimental.

The initiative challenges women to devote at least one day to building simple, decent and affordable housing in their local communities, states a release from the Kauai Habitat for Humanity. More than 62,000 women for all 50 states have volunteered in previous years.

“I was on the wait list for an Anahola lot for 29 years,” McDermott said. “When I finally got my lot, it was just so exciting. Then, I had a stroke and had to deal with brain surgery. But I was not going to wait. I climbed the ladder from front desk to the assistant general manager of a resort, and it all ended with a stroke. But through the help of Kauai Habitat for Humanity, I was able to build my home, and two years later, I keep asking, ‘Is it still for real?’ I remember how my husband refused to move on the house until I came home to hit the first nail.”

Stephen Spears, executive director for Kauai Habitat for Humanity, said the first homes for the Eleele Iluna neighborhood will enter escrow this week.

“Once that happens, things should be moving along,” Spears said. “These are homes appraised at $400,000, and the homeowners are getting them for around $225,000. “

Spears said the land is available for creating homes, what is needed is help in the way of donations and sponsorship of homes such as the commitment from Dow Agrosciences. First Hawaiian Bank, and several other community organizations.

Nick Wehrly’s home is one of those nearing completion.

“I have one side of the house painted,” Nick said. “That’s the side I knew they were going to see. But I still have the other sides to work on. The floor is in, the cabinets, sinks are in, and the power is on. I think we are scheduled to move in May. I never could have imagined having a house. Not just a house, but one so close to my parents who are homeowners in Eleele Iluna, Phase I. When the dust fence goes down, they can see my house from theirs.”

Kawehi Harris is another homeowner whose home is moving along.

“The flooring just went in,” she said. “By the end of May, we should be looking at completion because we begin exterior painting this week.”

Shana Cruz said getting a denial letter was totally devastating.

“We had our application filled and turned in,” Cruz said. “And then, there was the denial letter. It was devastating. How could this be? We are married, have children, and a new car. But through the process, there is blessing. It came down to whether we get a house, or keep the new car. Kauai Habitat for Humanity helped us and Eleele Iluna is not just about building houses, we’re building a neighborhood.”

Sharolyn Moises is another homeowner who said her son Javis is anxiously waiting to play in their new yard.

“He doesn’t have a yard where we’re currently staying,” Moises said. “Our home is coming pretty soon. We come down to help whenever we can, between work and all the kids’ activities. We’ve seen it all happen at each phase. Javis sees the yard and gets excited.”

Cruz offered her advice to prospective homeowners.

“Don’t settle for ‘no,’” she said. “I can. I will — with God by my side.”

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