The BankNewport team enters work on the Habitat home in Burrillville

BURRILLVILLE – Twenty volunteers from BankNewport were scheduled to join Habitat for Humanity of West Bay and Northern RI on Friday, August 5th to help with the construction of a new affordable home in the Oakland section of Burrillville.

A first shift team, which arrived at the house at 8:30 Friday morning, included a female bank staff of ten who went to work hammering, sawing and installing siding on the Oakland School Street structure.

Bank volunteers worked under the guidance of Habitat construction professionals and also created a learning experience for those with no experience building.

“They have a schedule,” BankNewport Executive Vice President and Chief Engagement Officer Wendy Kagan said of the Habitat team. “We do what these gentlemen tell us to do. It just ended up being girl power this morning.”

A national organization that has built homes for those with inadequate shelter for four decades, Habitat works on the principle that everyone deserves a decent, affordable place to live. The West Bay & Northern Rhode Island chapter, one of four in the state, purchased the property in Burrillville in 2020.

The formerly vacant lot, one of two in the neighborhood Habitat purchased for $35,000, will soon house a finished duplex to be occupied by two families who earned their space in part through sweat equity. The Habitat program requires program recipients to contribute 300 hours of construction work.

Once completed, the houses are sold to qualified families at no profit through affordable, interest-free loans. The organization has worked on several houses in Burrillville, including transforming a cabin on Wallum Lake Road and rehabilitating a house on Fox Run Drive to accommodate a wheelchair-bound homeowner.

Work in Oakland began last fall with the pouring of the foundation, and the structure is now on track for completion around Thanksgiving, according to longtime Habitat volunteer Earl Marsh.

“They usually work here on Saturdays,” Marsh said of the recipient families. “They can get friends and family to help them.”

“They’re doing really well. They’re right on schedule,” he added.

On Friday, it was the BankNewport team contributing labor, working on landscaping, soffit installation and more in pink hard hats.

BankNewport Executive Vice President and Chief Engagement Officer Wendy Kagan installs siding.

“They give everything,” Kagan said.

Benefits included lunch brought by Habitat before the second shift team had to arrive.

Construction has not yet begun on another site in Oakland across from the current building.

Volunteer Olivia Joyner sits on a set of stairs she just built.
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