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Building Hope: The History of Habitat for Humanity

Building Hope: The History of Habitat for Humanity

Habitat for Humanity of Summit and Wasatch Counties has built 30 homes and helped 66 people (28 adults and 38 kids) find a safe, stable place to live. Last year alone, 181 volunteers contributed 2,750 hours building and repairing homes, working at the Park City ReStore, and participating in committees, events, and education programs, all with the goal of bettering lives and building hope and opportunity in our communities.

These are just some of the milestones achieved in the past 29 years. Executive director Shellie Barrus shares more about the history of Habitat for Humanity of Summit and Wasatch Counties, future plans, and the important role homeowners play in the organization.

Homeowners Are Part of the Habitat Family

The history of Habitat for Humanity is centered on helping local folks improve their lives through affordable housing. As Barrus puts it, “How do we support the people who are living here, working here, and supporting our community to be able to stay here and thrive?” 

She shares a story about a homeowner from Heber City named Samantha, a single mom with twin seven-year-old boys, who asked her boss to let her take time off work on every volunteer day when her home was being built so she could be there. As Barrus recounts, Samantha said, “These people I don’t even know are working on my house. I don’t want to miss saying thank you to everyone.

Barrus considers the homeowners part of the Habitat family and is always happy when she runs into them in the community. “They’re 100% in on making this successful. We’re not just building homes for people to buy,” she says. “We are building homes that create stability in the community. They’re really a place to center your family.”

Key Moments in the History of Habitat for Humanity

Habitat for Humanity in Summit County was incorporated in 1995 and completed its first home in Coalville two years later. As the new millennium began, Habitat began to grow and need paid staff while still depending on community volunteers. 

The Summit and Wasatch County Habitats merged in 2001, and more homes followed in Coalville, Heber City, and Kamas, with the tenth home completed in 2009. In 2011, the organization partnered with Park City to build two LEED-certified homes in Park City’s Old Town.

The opening of ReStore in Park City in 2013 was a big step forward in sustaining the organization. ReStore is just one example of Habitat’s sustainability efforts, along with building energy-efficient homes. In 2019, we started building Zero Energy Ready homes and townhomes in Summit County’s Silver Creek Village. This project also marked a move away from building one home at a time to constructing a neighborhood of 26 homes and townhomes. In 2021, for the first time in the organization’s history, a Habitat home was featured in the Park City Area Showcase of Homes.
 

Plans for the Future

When asked what she’s most proud of during her time at Habitat, Barrus says, “I’m really proud of stabilizing and growing the organization to be able to serve more families.” 
 

In the years to come, Habitat plans to expand its operations. “We are really looking to grow our model and be able to be in multiple communities at once,” she says. “We’re looking forward to expanding so we can be serving our entire service area, year round, moving forward.”

Ways to Get Involved

If learning the history of Habitat for Humanity has inspired you to support the organization, there are many ways to help. Join us to build or repair a Habitat home, shop at or volunteer at ReStore, or join a committee to share your expertise.
 

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