Bear and Mary Gray dedicated their new habitat for Humanity home last weekend.photo by Jerry Baldock
Bear and Mary Gray dedicated their new habitat for Humanity home last weekend.photo by Jerry Baldock

When Bear and Mary Gray broke ground for their future Habitat home nearly a year ago, they had a good laugh because they had to shovel snow before finding the dirt. This past weekend, only a ribbon had to be cut and the front door opened for the Grays to enter into their new Habitat home.

The Grays worked hard during the past year in order to get to the point of owning their own home. As part of the homeownership program, future homeowners earn sweat equity by volunteering at the Thrift and ReStore, on the construction site and helping with office work. The Grays well exceeded the required 500 hours by working more than 900 total, said family partners Marsha Lewis and Gayla Nelson.

"Bear and Mary were always at their home ready to help, and I had to constantly find work for them to do, Construction Manager Darleene Snider joked. "Mary is painter extraordinaire and Bear is a great cabinet finisher," she told the crowd, reminding them to check out the kitchen cabinets when they toured the new home.

The Grays are well known in Sisters and more than 60 friends, family and Habitat supporters came out on the late Sunday afternoon to celebrate. Paul Stone, the Gray's son, blessed the home, and told the crowd how the home is a "dream re-realized" for his parents. In the past several years, the Grays have had to move often, but they always made a home no matter where they lived, he said. Now they will own a home of their own with an affordable zero-interest mortgage.

"It was a delight working with Bear and Mary," Lewis said as she and Nelson presented the couple with a basket of goodies. "Bear and Mary are huggers and I'm a hugger too, and they had a sense of joy during this entire process," Lewis said.

The Gray's new neighbor, Clara Eberius, was ecstatic as she welcomed them to the community and shared how thankful she was to have her friends living next door. Eberius, who lived next door to the Grays in the past, originally told them about the homeownership program. She moved into her home last December and has been helping at her neighbor's house through the entire process.

As Mary hugged Eberius and shed tears of joy, she and Bear cut the ceremonial ribbons to their home.

"Thank you to all of the people who came out of the woodwork to support us," she said. The doors were open and inside friend and musician Doug Williams greeted the crowd with banjo music.

"Welcome to our home," Bear said to everyone who entered.

Sisters Habitat for Humanity is dedicated to eliminating substandard housing locally and worldwide through constructing, rehabilitating and preserving homes; by advocating for fair and just housing policies; and by providing training and access to resources to help families improve their shelter conditions.

Those interested in the homeownership or home-repair program can review the qualification brochures for each program at www.sistershabitat.org and then schedule an appointment with Marie Clasen by contacting her at 541-549-1193, marie@sistershabitat.org@bendbroadband.com.