Albert Millard has been a Habitat for Humanity volunteer for the past three-and-a-half years. After almost losing his life in a motorcycle accident 35 years ago, Millard has a disability that makes walking and hard labor difficult. But this challenge hasn’t stopped Millard from helping others. Now, his hard work is paying off and he’s receiving a house of his own.
On Yogi Way in Eugene, volunteers are busy constructing one of Habitat for Humanity’s houses. The new, one-story dwelling will be yellow and is placed in a neighborhood with other Habitat houses. This home will be built differently than most. Habitat for Humanity’s executive director Don Griffin explains:
Griffin: “The house is designed for someone who’ll be in a wheelchair. It’s designed so that there’s accessibility to the bathrooms and to the kitchen.”
The house’s recipient is Albert Millard. He currently walks with a limp but expects to need a wheelchair in the near future. At the build site he describes how the house will meet his needs.
Millard:”Here in the front, we’ll have a handicap accessible ramp going up here and around both the front the back door. The concrete is up for the ADA specifications. So, a wheelchair can just come right on up and around and no problems at all there.”
Millard’s mobility challenges began after he was in a motorcycle accident years ago.
Millard: “Crushed my legs, spent four and a half months in the hospital putting my legs back together and then it took about a year or so to learn how to walk and talk and everything else again – brain injury just totally trashed everything on my body. I wasn’t supposed to survive it, but somehow I did.”
After the accident, Millard began receiving disability benefits. With this as his only source of income, he could never own a place of his own. In the past 10 years, Millard says he’s moved five or six times. Habitat for Humanity is making Millard’s dreams come true by building him this home and selling it to him with a zero-percent interest mortgage.
Millard: “Nobody ever expected me to be able to afford a house because I just have a lower income and banks don’t want to deal with you if you don’t have at least three times what your monthly payment’s going to be.”
In order to qualify for a Habitat home, Millard had to be approved as someone with the ability to pay off his mortgage. He took a home owner education class and completed far more than the 400 hours of “sweat equity” time required of him.
Cathy Olson is the project leader at the build site. She works as a liaison between sponsors and the Habitat volunteers.
Olson: “Albert is probably one of the most giving people I’ve met. And, even when he’s tired and he’s hurting he never stops and he gives to everyone and plans to continue to give.”
The 165,000 dollar estimated expenses of Millard’s house are supported by a grant from Thrivent Financial as well as by nine local Lutheran churches and one Mennonite church. Habitat for Humanity also raises funds by partnering with local businesses to receive proceeds during certain events.
For Millard, every bit of help is appreciated.
Millard: “I’m not really the traditional family that they are helping. But, a family of one is still a family and because of my disabilities I’m just extremely happy that they were able to accept me and work with me.”
Habitat for Humanity hopes to have the house completed and move in ready by Thanksgiving of this year.