The July 21 dedication ceremony for two new Cape Cod Habitat for Humanity homes in Wellfleet was virtual, but still celebratory, marking the culmination of a construction effort that started last September when a team of volunteers raised the first walls.
Led by Mike Sullivan, the site supervisor, volunteer contractors and laymen working alongside each other completed the construction. There were clergy offering prayers, and home cooks offering sustenance. Local banks and businesses lent financial services and support.
On the day of the Zoom dedication, the 50 participants were proof that a Habitat Home truly does take a village to build.
The happy new home owners are Lindsey Shores, her fiancé, Alex Belair, and their three children; and Lisa and Alan Phillipo and their daughter. Lisa said, “It’s been hard facing the problem of housing, but the solution will always be the same: working together.”
Both families received handmade housewarming gifts, including bookshelves painted to match the children’s bedrooms by Melissa Wheeler and birdhouses by Fred Guidi. Pictured, the Phillipo family, flanked by Habitat’s Art Bodin (far left) and Mary Ann Mills-Lassiter (far right), receives a quilt made by members of the Cape Cod Quilters Guild. “The quilt was built, just as the house was, with many hands,” said Judy Olsen, a Guild member.
Besides being highly functional, the kitchen in the Shores-Belair home includes high-quality materials. The granite countertop was donated by Paul Mason Boston Granite Exchange and installed by Cape Cod Marble & Granite. The whale is a gift from volunteer Tom Simeone.
The wall raising on Sept. 14, 2019 was the beginning of an efficient building process led by Bob Ryley, director of construction, guiding volunteers. Ryley says that with each house he’s built, he has tried to improve indoor air quality and energy efficiency. These houses have a Home Energy Rating System score of -15, meaning the house produces more energy than it consumes, primarily through its solar roof panels.
For all Habitat homes, the new owners are required to contribute 500 hours of “sweat equity” to the build. Lindsey Shores didn’t have much construction experience, so she was grateful for the project leaders’ patient instruction. “Ryley,” she said, “really wanted me to learn how to fix my own mirror.” The instruction took: Lindsey laughed about her recent purchase of an electric sander, saying she never would have known what that was before Habitat.
With the work behind them, Lindsey and Alex pause on their porch — a neighborly element often included in Habitat designs. The family, from left to right: Alex, Ethan, Kayden, Savannah, and Lindsey, with their dog, Finn. “Now we finally have somewhere that’s home,” said Lindsey. “We’re so grateful. Sitting on the porch that we helped build, I said to Alex, ‘This is amazing. Look where we live now.’ ”
ON DURKEE LANE
The lane where Wellfleet’s new Habitat houses are located was named in honor of Steve and Nancy Durkee, dedicated housing advocates in Wellfleet and longtime Habitat for Humanity volunteers. Nancy, who died in 2004, had a background in social work that helped guide her as she interviewed family applicants and provided support to families during construction and afterwards.
Steve was one of the first presidents of the Habitat for Humanity board of directors. His work on the Wellfleet Housing Authority helped create 12 new rental units and 10 houses, permanent housing for 50 people.
Elaine McIlroy, a member of the housing authority, says Steve Durkee is her “conscience” in the work she does for affordable housing.
In this picture, taken when construction was just getting underway in the fall, the Shores and the Phillipos stand with the Durkees’ son Stephen, daughter Susan, and granddaughter Sela Kenan.
McIlroy said the completion of the new houses had her remembering Steve Durkee for “his hard work, dedication, advocacy, out of the box thinking,” and, she added, for what he always liked to say: “We have to do more.” —Molly Newman