Our Voice: Thank you to those who help people start again

Two stories this week have us thinking about the importance of having someplace to live.

For too many in the Mid-Columbia it is a struggle. Through a variety of circumstances people -- and families -- can find themselves homeless or living in unsafe conditions.

Last year our local school district reported hundreds of homeless students. The definition of "homeless" is pretty broad, but it brings out a need in our community.

We appreciate people making an effort to solve the problem.

A place called home

Habitat for Humanity builds homes and relationships. Locally they have been at it for 20 years and have produced 90 homes.

That's shelter for 90 families. But it also is a whole lot more.

It's 90 tables where homework is finished and checked. It's 90 kitchens where meals are prepared and shared.

It's a meaningful project for those who work on homes they never will occupy. It's thousands of hours of donated time from people who want to help someone. It's friendships that are formed by laboring next to each other.

We are certain we speak on behalf of those 90 families when we say thanks.

Thank you to Kennewick's Larry Merk who helped form the organization two decades ago and has worked on every one of the 90 homes.

Thanks to anyone who has pounded a nail or painted a wall. And thank you to those who donate money and supplies.

Find out how you can help at habitatbuilds.com or 509-943-5555.

Safe, secure homes are good for the people who live in them and for the whole community.

Scholarships for families

We also are interested in a new scholarship program the Kennewick Housing Authority has in place to help some of their residents become more self sufficient.

The $500 scholarships are not going to put the three recipients through school. Not by a long shot. But they buy hope.

It's a great thing when someone else believes you can accomplish your goal. The vote of confidence can open doors that otherwise would remain closed.

This scholarship program is new to our community, but not unusual around the country. Lona Hammer, the housing authority's executive director, says in Alaska the program has been used for years and it encourages families to continue their education.

We're eager to see where this road leads.