Construction begins in the once vacant corner lot. The ground is unearthed to prepare the way for a cement foundation. A few new homes are slated to stand on this site when all is said and done. But these are not any ordinary homes, these are unique and special for they are Habitat for Humanity homes. The four walls of these abodes will provide a boost for the families residing in them and this is precisely what makes the new executive director of Skagit Habitat for Humanity, Tina Tate, very happy.
Tate took up the reigns at Skagit Habitat on February 14, 2022, after serving as executive director with the Friendship House for the past eight years. At Friendship House, Tate became instrumental to the growth and stability of the shelter, leading the way for increased services such as Skagit First Steps Center, a 24/7 emergency temporary homeless center, and Barbara’s House, a five-bedroom shelter offering housing for fixed/low-income individuals. Tate became a strong voice in the community, advocating for the homeless population of this area. Over her eight years, she developed a well-respected reputation amongst government officials and leaders as well as the community at large.
Tate expresses her gratitude to Friendship House. “This was my first position as executive director and I learned many skills during this time,” she says. Additionally, Tate feels her time at Friendship House laid a framework to keep providing for the homeless. “I felt like I had achieved a lot already to get homeless services going in the community,” Tate explains.
The Move to Skagit Habitat for Humanity
Her move to Skagit Habitat will have her focusing on housing issues with a whole new perspective. “I want to do more with root causes and help people get out of poverty,” she says. “Skagit Habitat gives low-income folks the means to build equity and wealth with affordable mortgage payments instead of high rent costs, which can take every penny they have.”
The vision statement for Skagit Habitat for Humanity is a simple one, “Empowering people to empower themselves.” There are several ways they go about supporting each new homebuyer to success including sweat equity. Each homebuyer needs to complete 500 hours of volunteer work, which may involve working in the Re-Store, the retail store for Habitat for Humanity, or time spent helping build their own home. In addition, they complete classes on subjects from qualifying for a mortgage as well as maintaining a home for years to come.
Many homebuyers in our community achieve all this while working full-time jobs and raising their children. “These are good people working hard but getting nowhere,” shares Tate. “These are people you meet every day like the grocery store worker, hospital care giver or bartender.”
Tate believes in the permanent effect Skagit Habitat has on its homebuyers helping them break the cycle of poverty, especially for the next generation. “When a family is in a stable home environment, it reduces childhood trauma, keeping these kids out of the cycle of homelessness,” Tate shares. “The children do better in school and thrive because there is more time for mom and dad to be at home.”
While she is still getting settled in to her new role, this does not keep Tate from looking toward the future. “My hopes and dreams are for us to build more houses, I would like to see up to 15 a year, to serve more families by getting them into their own homes,” she says. Additionally, she sees more Habitat homes becoming energy efficient, utilizing solar panels along with green materials. But her biggest dream is to work with developers willing to gift a portion of land.
Ways You Can Help Skagit Habitat
Tate feels the biggest thing anyone can do is to invest in their community. “We are all stronger together,” she says. How can you invest? By donating monetarily, with your time, skills or resources. Come shop at the Re-Store! The retail shop generates the majority of Skagit Habitat’s income and is an easy way for the community to participate. Plus, there are many cool and unique finds!
Of course, cash donations are always accepted and land is badly needed in able to meet this communities’ building needs.
To contact Skagit Habitat to make a donation or volunteer visit the Skagit Habitat for Humanity website. and fill out their form. A homebuyer’s application is also located on their website.
Tate’s vision is an altruistic one, simply striving to better the lives of people in our community. Empowering them to empower themselves.