Niagara Falls home gets new life from Habitat
(Hilliary Poole, her daughters, Irene, 11, and Sasha, 16, and Claudia Folsom of Habitat for Humanity in the new home.)
NIAGARA FALLS — The once-bare floors of a one-story house on B Street are now covered with rhubarb red carpet. Fresh paint coats the walls. Pictures of Hilliary Poole’s two daughters line the living room.
This is the home that Poole and more than 300 volunteers built.
Sunday, a dozen of those volunteers gathered in the kitchen to dedicate the second house in the city’s Echota neighborhood completed by Niagara Area Habitat for Humanity.
“It just lets me know that things that you have to achieve in life that are too big for you, you can enlist the help of others,” Poole told the volunteers. “Thanks for the love.”
Poole and her daughters, Irene and Sasha, moved in to the house in October along with their pet cockatiel, Peaches.
Since then, the Pooles have made the house their own. Irene, 11, has decked her room in pink, purple and Barbie. Poole has hung up her daughters’ awards. Newspaper clippings of the family are laminated and hung on the walls.
“It was a dream come true,” said Poole, a medical assistant who was renting a home before applying for the Habitat program in which potential homeowners put “sweat equity” toward the construction of a new house.
The Habitat chapter has built or refurbished 16 houses in Niagara Falls and North Tonawanda since 1993 and is now focusing on building out vacant sites in the city’s Echota neighborhood on land donated by DuPont Co.
According to a historic resources survey done by the City of Niagara Falls, the neighborhood was named Echota “after the Cherokee word meaning shelter or a place of refuge.”
A third Habitat house in Echota is nearly complete, and volunteers expect to begin work on another this spring.
Robert Miller, president of the Echota West Block Club, said neighbors are glad to see the once-forgotten neighborhood see new life. The community was originally built in the late 1800s as a model neighborhood for workers at Niagara Power Co.
“It’s a blend of the old and the new, and we just continue to make Echota grow,” Miller said. “It sat dormant for so many years.”
The Habitat chapter is looking for additional donations to help pay for the next house slated for Echota as the cost of construction rises, said board member Betsy Diachun. She said the group is looking for people to pledge $100 a year for four years for the new house.
“We want to be able to keep building,” said Claudia Folsom, president of Niagara Area Habitat. “This is the first time since 1993 that we’ve had to stop construction for any period of time.”
For more information on the “400 Club” or to volunteer, call 285-2877.