A very happy, fulfilled group of about 70 gathered in Horseshoe Lake Estates just off State Route 302 on the Key Peninsula on a November Sunday. They were there to participate in the dedication — and occupation of — two brand new homes built by the Gig Harbor/Key Peninsula Chapter of the Tacoma/Pierce County Affiliate of Habitat for Humanity International. Warren Hendrickson, a retired Delta Air Lines pilot and chairman of the GH/KP chapter, officiated at the sun-swept but chilly ceremony.

Following an opening prayer by Deacon John Riccardi of St. Nicholas church in Gig Harbor, Sue Harms, GH/KP chapter family partner, introduced the Lawson family: mom Kim holding 2-year-old Sophia, Nick, 16, and Mariah, 13.

Kim described her feelings and those of her family at this “chance at a new beginning.”

Family partner Judy Greinke presented the Nelson family, mom Crystal, Arianna, 4, and Cheyanne, 7. Crystal’s remarks brought a tear to more than one eye.

Before Hendrickson closed the ceremony, Pastor Sue Kahawaii of Tacoma’s Champion Centre blessed the homes.

Thereafter, visitors to the homes either wore shoe wraps or left their shoes at the door to preserve the cleanliness and the “brand new” feeling of the homes. Two donated decorated cakes and punch staved off hunger pangs.

Among the many organizations contributing to the success of the project was the Key Peninsula Lions Club, whose contingent was led by Vice President George Robison.

Richie Phillips, an 18-year-old senior at Gig Harbor High said, “Habitat for Humanity is my senior project. I thought it was pretty cool to see the final house, walk through it and see everything I had done. Seeing the two families get the keys to the houses and all those gifts was incredible. I can’t imagine how thankful they felt. I felt very proud standing there knowing I helped build their houses.”

Those interested in more information or wishing to volunteer with Habitat should contact 253-627-5626 or write to GH/KP Chapter, Habitat for Humanity, PO Box 7124 Tacoma, WA 98406.