Volunteers Mira Vowels, Eileen Sleva, Mary Ryan-Hotchkiss and Lisa Stiller stand beside a peace pole located near a Beaverton Habitat for Humanity House being built by local Catholics. The pole gives messages of peace in the languages of the eight families who will live at the site. (Courtesy Lisa Stiller)
Volunteers Mira Vowels, Eileen Sleva, Mary Ryan-Hotchkiss and Lisa Stiller stand beside a peace pole located near a Beaverton Habitat for Humanity House being built by local Catholics. The pole gives messages of peace in the languages of the eight families who will live at the site. (Courtesy Lisa Stiller)
Habitat for Humanity policy is to provide only first names of homeowners and their family members.

BEAVERTON — Melak, 13, can't wait to move into her new home. “I'm excited for a bigger house,” she said.

Melak, her 8-year-old brother Raseel, and her 2-year-old sister Dima, along with her parents Jabbar and Rana, will be moving into one of the new domiciles built by Habitat for Humanity. The family came from Iraq seven years ago and has been renting.

Their home is one of 16 Habitat houses in Denney Gardens, including one constructed with the help of local Catholics. About to live in that new Catholic-built house are Pamir and Tahmena and their three children, 7-year-old Zainab, 4-year-old Daywa and 1-year-old Abdullah. They came from Afghanistan almost five years ago.

Pamir said he has learned by working on his house. He especially enjoyed painting and installing siding. “I’m very excited, waiting a long time … we appreciate the donations,” he said. Like all who are accepted into Habitat, both families volunteered at least 500 hours to help build their home. They were happy to do it.

Pamir and Tahmena’s house was built by volunteers and donations from a coalition of parishes, including Holy Trinity, Our Lady of the Lake, St. Anthony, St. Cecilia, St. Juan Diego, St. Pius X, Spirit of Grace and the Knights of Columbus from St. Pius. This year the Catholic Build group had a matching grant from an anonymous donor.

According to Erin Maxey, homeowner services manager at Willamette West Habitat for Humanity, eight to 10 families are chosen for Habitat each year. Families with low to moderate income are considered. They must offer sweat equity, take classes and have a good reason to move, like substandard housing.

Construction at Denney Gardens began in April 2018. On Sept. 20, Beaverton’s 15th peace pole went up next to Pamir’s new home. The pole is inscribed with the words, “May peace prevail on Earth” in eight languages representing the families involved in the dedication: English, Spanish, Arabic, Somali, Amharic, Vietnamese, Swahili and French.

The peace poles are paid for by the Beaverton Rotary Peace Building Committee and the Jubitz Foundation.

Volunteers building homes is a part of peacemaking, said organizers of the event. “The peace poles … remind us all of the importance of seeking peace, both in our own lives and around the world,” said Mira Vowels.

“All of us working together makes a stronger, more peaceful community,” said Mark Forker, executive director of Willamette West Habitat for Humanity.

Eileen Sleva, chairwoman of Holy Trinity Parish’s social justice committee, worked on what was called the Catholic Build home. “As a Catholic, I truly believe that in order to proclaim that I am pro-life I need to actively work to promote life for those who are most needy, especially in my neighborhood,” Sleva said. “Habitat was the perfect opportunity, because everyone deserves a safe, healthy place to life and raise a family.”

According to Chris Kondrat, a volunteer from St. Pius X , “It is social justice in action to lift people out of poverty.”

The eight families involved in the dedication received welcome-home gift baskets donated by the Portland Timbers. George Coveney, from Holy Trinity Parish, sang songs of peace for the dedication.