A Habitat for Humanity house will be built at Clara and North in Southwest Fresno to honor a Washington Union High teacher. The new home represents everything Chandler West lived for.
It was just shovels of dirt, but it meant so much more to those gathered in Southwest Fresno. In a matter of months, this dirt along with wood, concrete and metal will make a home for the Her family, Long, Yor and their two children.
Long Her said, "I am really excited that I'm gonna be a homeowner."
The Her home will be built with love, prayer and dollars from friends and colleagues of Chandler West, a Washington Union High school teacher and coach who died of cancer last spring.
Chandler quit his career in construction to teach drafting at Washington Union, he was also actively involved in Habitat for Humanity. Chandler's widow says the Her home is a fitting tribute to her husband.
Sue West said, "When he first came to this community and started working at Washington Union, he just fell in love with the people here and the students - and he realized later that many of his students lived in Habitat homes."
Carey Berend and her bible study group at Fresno's University Presbyterian Church began fundraising for the Habitat home last spring. Their goal was $35 thousand; nearly $75 thousand dollars has been collected to date.
Fresno Habitat Executive Director Tony Miranda says his organization jumped at the chance to participate in the Chandler West project.
Miranda said, "He'd been a Habitat volunteer for many years and it's unusual when you have someone come out with the skill level Chandler had, but what's really unusual is when you have somebody with that skill level who really enjoys people and working with people and teaching and training."
The Hers will put in 500 hours of sweat equity before their home is complete, and if the family stays in the home until their children are teenagers, they will be students at the same school that was so close to Chandler West's heart, Washington Union High School.