Saco and Habitat for Humanity York County embrace family of six
CESO – Sarah Thibault was facing a mountain – a mountain so big, she said, she just couldn’t get around it.
Disabled, the newly single mother and her five sons were at risk of losing their home. Times were really tough and the future looked bleak.
But that has changed, and with the help of her community, things have gotten better – and they’re about to get even better. His family was chosen for the new Habitat for Humanity construction in York County in Saco. This means Thibault will be able to buy a house for her and her boys with a mortgage she can afford.
“It removed the mountain,” she said in a recent interview.
Thibault has been candid about his situation. She suffers from a myriad of chronic health conditions and receives a disability, but was not eligible for housing assistance – and even if she did, the waiting lists are long. Boys, aged 9 to 2, have a variety of special needs.
“The realization that I was unable to provide for their most basic needs on my own broke my heart,” she said.
When the pandemic hit and schools abruptly closed in March, Thibault found herself trying to follow virtual learning for the four school-aged boys and trying to make ends meet. The Saco school community helped a lot, she said, by providing food and other essentials, and a mortgage loan officer was among those who attended. They started exploring the options, but there didn’t seem to be any that had a chance to work.
Then Thibault thought of Habitat for Humanity and the loan officer, who had previously worked with the program, encouraged her to apply. She did, filling out the papers in September.
In November, one of the members of the selection committee knocked on his door.
“She said ‘I want to congratulate you, your family has been chosen to be Saco’s partner family,” recalls Thibault.
Thibault said she burst into tears, and at first the boys were nervous when they heard her cry.
“They asked if they were sad tears or tears of joy,” she said. The boys knew she was looking for a place to live for the family, and they knew about Habitat for Humanity.
When he learned that the family had been chosen, “the first words of the second oldest were ‘thank you, my God’, and he gave his brothers a hug,” she recalls. “Their reaction was to kiss. Thank God for the blessing. They are the most selfless boys I have ever met; their hearts are so big and caring, and I am honored to be their mother.
These days the family live in an apartment – another chance as the owner has had many, many inquiries and 20 people had been scheduled to view the rental, including Thibault. She explained the house project and wasn’t sure what impact it would have on a rental agreement. The owner called the next day and said everything would be fine.
Due to the size of the family, the Thibault’s home will have four bedrooms and 1 3/4 baths, slightly larger than most Habitat buildings. Thibault said she had driven to the site several times with the boys and noted that there were marks indicating that work on the site was planned.
The family hope to be in their new home later this year – it depends on volunteers and funds.
There has been some good news about it – York County Habitat for Humanity director Amy Nucci said the organization had received building permits from the town of Saco, which did donation of land for the project. Hancock Lumber, which recently opened in Saco on Route 1, donated all building materials and lumber for the Marguerite Road house.
“The York County Chapter selected the perfect family that so deserves this opportunity, and we are grateful to be a part of making this special build,” said Erin Plummer, Marketing Director of Hancock Lumber.
The Saco project is “the culmination of community generosity,” said Nucci.
“These two donations have a huge impact as the cost of building materials continues to rise and the availability of affordable building land is very, very limited in York County,” said Nucci. “We are raising funds to cover the additional costs of this construction. “
There will be a need for volunteers. Habitat for Humanity houses are built in large part by people who volunteer their time and skills. Families contribute “sweat equity” to building their own homes or the homes of other Habitat families. Sometimes families work in Habitat’s Re-store as a contribution, or if they are unable to work, friends and neighbors do it on their behalf, Nucci explained. Those wishing to volunteer for this first Saco build or donate funds can call the HFHYC office at 985-4850 or visit the website at www.habitatyorkcounty.org.
Thibault is grateful to everyone who helped his family.
“I have goose bumps, the way this community has shown how big their hearts are,” she said. “It was very humiliating. I keep thinking “why, why would people I have never met before tempt my family and go out of their way to help us?” It’s nothing I’ve never known before.