Mother 'grateful' for Habitat for Humanity - and a house she can call home
DALTON — From the moment Courtney McArdle gave birth to her daughter in February 2012, she has dreamed of owning a home to raise her family in.
On Saturday, two years and 4,800 volunteer-hours after discovering Central Berkshire Habitat for Humanity, the organization handed her the keys to the East Housatonic Street home she and 379 community members helped build from the foundation up.
"One of the biggest things for this house was, I had to build something that was worthy of my two beautiful, amazing children," McArdle said from her backyard Saturday. "That was really important. I had to give them something that they would be proud of and they could be grateful for."
And whenever her children — 7-year-old Avery and 6-year-old Easton — walk into their new three-bedroom home, she knows they are grateful, McArdle said.
More than 40 residents and Berkshire officials gathered at the recently constructed two-floor home to welcome McArdle to her new neighborhood and present her with housewarming gifts.
Select Board member John Boyle, who lives across the street from McArdle, spoke about the benefits that the new home will bring to the town.
"First of all, it cleared away a very blighted, rat-infested property that was here," he said. "They had been abandoned for several years; we didn't even realize that the property extended that far into the back. It's turned into what's going to be a great backyard for the kids."
The project also will return the property to the town's tax roll and bring a "vibrant, young family" into an aging community, he said.
"So, thanks for bringing down the [age] average, Courtney," Boyle said, jokingly.
With the help of many donors, Habitat staff presented McArdle with a table of goods to kick off her homeownership, including cleaning supplies, a garden hose and a doormat.
Borrowing a gesture from "It's a Wonderful Life," state Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier, D-Pittsfield, also had gifts for McArdle.
"I would like to give you some bread, so this house never knows hunger," she said while handing the 28-year-old a baguette. "Some spices, so that life always has flavor, and flowers, so this house always knows joy."
McArdle began volunteering with Central Berkshire Habitat for Humanity in 2017, after a period of having no luck house hunting with her mother. At the time, she was working three jobs and struggling to pay rent.
"We couldn't afford it, and we were sinking, and it wasn't insulated well," she said of the house they had been living in. "Working three jobs, I was just sinking."
With a budget of $160,000 to $200,000, McArdle and her mom found it difficult to find a house big enough for the growing children.
Central Berkshire Habitat CEO Carolyn Valli eventually suggested that she begin the process to build her own home with Habitat's help.
McArdle thanked Valli, volunteers and her mother for their support over the past two years.
"Every time I walk in the door, I am grateful," she said.
Haven Orecchio-Egresitz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, and 413-770-6977.
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