by Ann M. Colford

Everybody needs a roof to shelter from the sun or the rain, but some people in our community don't have the roof they need. That's why Habitat for Humanity-Spokane chose "Raise the Roof" as the theme for its eighth annual fund-raising auction to be held on Saturday, Sept. 20, at the Lair Student Center of Spokane Community College.

In this case, raising the roof is more than just symbolism; the group hopes to bring in the funds needed to build a three-bedroom home for the Starovoytov family. That amounts to $63,000, a fair sum for one evening's work. But Sue Cassidy, community relations director for Habitat-Spokane, is optimistic.

"Last year's auction generated more than $52,000," she says. "We have an auction committee and a subcommittee for procurement, and they work on it for a year, contacting hotels and airlines and other businesses to get the items for the auction."

Tickets run $35 per person. Auction-goers get dinner, a beverage and dessert; wine and beer will be available for a nominal fee. The silent auction of hundreds of items begins when the doors open at 5 pm, and then auctioneer Jeff Owens starts the live auction at 7 pm. Several getaway packages go on the block, including tickets to the Oprah Winfrey show in Chicago, along with hotel and airfare.

"That one is particularly exciting, because those tickets are hard to get," Cassidy says. Other getaways include packages to Mexico and the Powder Ridge Resort in Utah.

In addition to a selection of gift baskets, tools and children's items, the auction also features many pieces of original art, donated by local artists. "We had a great response from the artists' community," Cassidy says. "We have pottery, paintings -- just a wide variety of art work." One local quilter designed and made a special Habitat quilt just for the auction.

Nikolay and Lyubov Starovoytov came to Spokane from Russia five years ago with their four children. Oldest son Alexey now serves in the U.S. Air Force, but the three younger children still share one small bedroom in their parents' rented duplex. Like all Habitat families, the Starovoytovs will contribute hundreds of hours of labor to build their own home, and they will pay back the organization with a no-interest loan. They'll follow the tradition of earlier Habitat-Spokane families, who combined to pay $70,000 in property taxes to the city in 2002.

Habitat-Spokane has built a total of 120 homes locally since its inception in 1987. The group held its second annual Blitz Build in June, raising three homes in a two-week period. For the current fiscal year, which began in July, Habitat-Spokane hopes to complete 15 homes.

"It's an ambitious goal, but the need is here," Cassidy says.

Another way to help Habitat-Spokane achieve its goal -- and help the environment at the same time -- is to support the Habitat-Spokane Builders Surplus Store at 850 E. Trent Ave., on the corner of Trent and Hamilton. The store recently nearly doubled in size, thanks to increasing donations from the construction community. The store welcomes donations of both new and used building materials that are clean and in good condition. Some supplies go directly to the construction of new Habitat homes, while other items are placed for sale in the retail store. In its three-year history, the store has returned more than $265,000 to Habitat-Spokane. Last year, the proceeds from the store were enough to sponsor the building of two homes, and this year, store manager Tom Brassier says he hopes to do the same.

"We expanded the store hours a little more than a year ago, and that has helped our business," he says. "Our donations are up. Because of where we are, in the corridor with St. Vincent de Paul and Brown Building Supply, we all stay in touch to help people find what they need."

Shopping at the store helps homeowners, remodelers and landlords complete their projects on a budget, because the store's prices are generally no more than 50 percent of a comparable retail price. Brassier says the store will even arrange to pick up items within a 20-mile radius of Spokane.

And on top of that, recycling materials has a measurable benefit on the environment: Since the store's inception, more than 500 tons of construction waste has been kept out of Washington's landfills. According to the Department of Ecology, construction waste accounts for between 15 and 40 percent of the solid waste stream in the state. Brassier works with construction organizations to get the word out about the store.

"The more they recycle, the better off everyone is," he points out.

Publication date: 09/11/03

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