WATERVILLE — Linda Santerre will tell you it is an exciting time for Waterville Area Habitat for Humanity.

The volunteer nonprofit organization is about to build an affordable home in the city’s South End, it has increased its business hours for the Habitat ReStore on Silver Street, and it continues to help people in need with home repairs, weatherization and household items.

“The main mission and purpose is to give a hand up, not a handout — to build homes for people,” said Santerre, Habitat’s executive director. “We’re gearing up to build a house on Clark Street. We are going to be looking for applicants. We hope to finish the house before the snow flies. That’s our goal.”

People wanting to apply for the home may fill out applications on Habitat’s website, [email protected] The family chosen for the house will be considered a partner family and must be involved in building the house, helping to raise money, publicizing the effort and helping educate people about Habitat’s mission.

“They go through a process of learning how to be a homeowner,” Santerre said. “They learn about upkeep, budgeting, being a homeowner. It isn’t a free house. They do hold a mortgage. It’s usually a zero percent interest mortgage, but it’s still a mortgage. They do have to have an income. We are the silent partners. It costs us X number of dollars, but what it is appraised at, they can’t then turn around and sell the house for a profit. It’s all about giving someone a home, to give them a sense of community and live in the community. We hold the silent second partner mortgage.”

Waterville Area Habitat for Humanity has been in existence since 2001 and serves 13 communities — Waterville, Winslow Albion, Belgrade, Benton, China, Clinton, Fairfield, Oakland, Rome, Smithfield, Unity and Vassalboro. A locally managed affiliate of Habitat for Humanity International, it receives all of its funding through donations, fundraising and an annual appeal. It built its first home in 2004.


Habitat’s ReStore at 24 Silver St. downtown has been open more than two years and contains two 10,000-square-foot floors of new and used items donated by local businesses, small and big-box stores, contractors and homeowners. Items are sold at a discount.

“We have everything from nails to shingles, to wall hangings, toss pillows, washers, dryers, bookcases — everything you have under the roof of a house, we probably have — electrical and plumbing fixtures, toilets, sinks, light fixtures,” Santerre said. “No clothing or mattresses. We have a 1900s dough bowl which they made bread in. We’ve had some very unique pieces donated. I never know what’s going to come through the door.”

The store until recently was open only Thursday through Saturday, but now it is open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, according to Santerre. People may bring donations to the store during those hours, but Santerre recommends they call first so she can determine whether the items are acceptable. The store typically does not take televisions and electronics, for instance. Store proceeds go back into the mission of building homes.

There are six ReStores in Maine, with the closest ones to Waterville located in Bangor and Brunswick.

The house on Clark Street will be a wood-frame, three-bedroom house with an open floor plan for the kitchen and living room. The city donated the small corner lot to Habitat after taking the property for nonpayment of taxes and demolishing a tiny house on it.

“We’ll build the house with volunteers,” Santerre said. “We have a construction coordinator volunteer to oversee it. We have a construction planning committee who helps kind of move it forward. It is a community event. We have board members. A lot of people in the community are involved with moving this forward. We couldn’t do it without volunteers and different organizations that step forward and say, ‘How can we help?'”


To build the house, Habitat had to raise $50,000 to $60,000, and officials have reached that goal, Santerre said.

“This will be our fifth house in the Waterville area,” she said.

Some people donate land or a house to Habitat. Santerre said officials encourage people to think about Habitat in their bequests or wills, but she notes that property must be able to be fixed up by Habitat.

Another program Habitat operates helps people in the community with household needs such as furniture and kitchen supplies. Habitat received a grant from a local corporation for the program and partners with Kennebec Valley Community Action Program’s Poverty Action Coalition to help determine who is eligible to receive items.

“It might be a family coming out of the homeless shelter and they need stuff for an apartment,” Santerre said. “It might be a mom who fled a domestic violence situation and is getting a new apartment. KVCAP screens folks for us in identifying the need, and the people come to the ReStore and tell us what they need. It might be a fridge or a stove. Through that grant we were able to assist individuals in our community to get a hand up to better their situation.”

Habitat’s weatherization project is available to low-income families in Kennebec, Somerset and Waldo counties and provides up to $600 worth of materials that are installed by supervised volunteer laborers. Before-and-after energy audits are conducted and Habitat works with Efficiency Maine on the project, according to Santerre.


“We also have interior window projects that provide BPI-certified weatherization — custom fit interior storm windows made to order and meant to be used year after year,” she said. “Trained volunteers measure, build and deliver them to homes.”

Maine State Prison inmates help build window frames and a Habitat team stretches the plastic and puts on the stripping and hand-delivers the windows and installs them in some cases, she said.

Another program, “A Brush With Kindness,” helps to preserve the exterior of homes with painting, landscaping, weatherstripping and minor repairs. People who may be elderly or disabled or have special circumstances and need the help are eligible.

“Unfortunately, we don’t do trailers,” Santerre said. “Older trailers are difficult to work with, but if someone lives in a trailer and needs a handicapped ramp, he would qualify under Brush With Kindness.”

Santerre said businesses, individuals and groups help Habitat with fundraising efforts. The ReStore is staffed by volunteers and serves as a training site to help people learn job skills to get back on their feet.

Santerre said donations are tax-deductible and help to keep items out of landfills.


“It’s a win, win, win, win situation that the community has,” she said. “It’s a nice, full circle of restore, renovate and re-purpose.”

Habitat has a wish list, with the first and most desperately needed item being a box truck with a lift to use for picking up items or full estates being donated, according to Santerre. Currently, the organization must rent a truck for that purpose. A 17-foot truck would be ideal, but Santerre said she would not turn down a truck of another size.

“It would be a wonderful donation,” she said.

She welcomes organizations and businesses wanting to help by donating directly, helping to raise funds or by doing volunteer work.

She cited a success story in which a single mother with young twin girls who needed a home put in many hours to help Habitat build it. The girls are older now and their mother is getting her master’s degree.

“Imagine what her life would have been like had she not been able to take advantage of this,” Santerre said. “This was a hand up to give those girls a stable environment to grow up in.”


People wanting to volunteer or donate may call the ReStore at 616-0166, she said.

Amy Calder — 861-9247

[email protected]

Twitter: @AmyCalder17

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