PORT ANGELES — Eula Cook now has a place of her own to plant some roots.
The 54-year-old hairdresser and grandmother moved into her own home in late August with help from Habitat for Humanity of Clallam County.
She had been living in the Sequim area for nine years, caring for her 11-year-old granddaughter, Brielle. The pair live in a home in the Maloney Heights Subdivision in Port Angeles that Habitat for Humanity built for another family in the early 2000s who recently moved.
She has been in her new home for about three weeks now and said life is getting better in some facets.
“We spent a lot of time killing time,” Cook said. “There hasn’t been any routine. I’m trying to create that for my granddaughter and myself so that life can be easier.”
Cook, a Seattle native, rented in Sequim and Diamond Point and shared space in a friend’s home over about nine years.
Cyndi Hueth, executive director of Habitat for Humanity of Clallam County, encouraged Cook at Sequim Community Church about a year ago to look into a possible home through her organization.
Following an application and interview process, Cook began the sweat equity Habitat officials tout, helping at least 250 hours with her home and other Habitat projects.
Since the home already was built, Cook and volunteers put in some major renovations by replacing fixtures, light switches, broken baseboards and cabinet fixtures, as well as repainting the exterior and much more.
“The first day of cleaning, my arms were so sore,” Cook said. “I used muscles I didn’t know I had.”
Hueth said Cook was an incredibly hard worker and put her hours in at a record pace.
Cook is purchasing the home on a 26-year, zero percent-interest loan for $131,000. She also participated in a mandatory 16-hour class on financial management.
As an added treat, The Grocery Outlet of Sequim filled her cupboards with groceries and other amenities and Sequim Sears donated a microwave and dishwasher.
Hueth said Cook and her granddaughter fit the description for a family Habitat was looking to help.
“It’s been nice doing something different,” Hueth said. “For Habitat, typically we help a single mom or two-headed household. What we were hoping to do was find a grandparent or an aging-in-place person who wouldn’t mind having smaller lots.”
Cook said she chose the house because of its big floor plan and a fence so she could keep a better eye on her granddaughter.
Brielle started school Sept. 2 in the special education program.
Cook said during construction, she tried to be available, but her granddaughter limits her schedule.
Brielle is nonverbal and wears diapers, Cook said, and child care is complicated because most facilities care for children younger than 7 and they must be potty-trained.
Cook has tried numerous outlets but says facilities are either not available or interested.
“I cope with the fact that I’m a school mom and life revolves around her schedule,” she said. “I’ve fought that all my life.”
Cook recently transitioned to becoming a licensed personal service stylist so she can travel to clients under the business Eula’s on the Go.
She’ll be available during school hours to travel from Sequim to Port Angeles to Forks by calling 206-753-8708.
Cook said with the house, they’ll be able to make it.
“It’s necessary for me to work so that we can get up and above and not just basically pay the mortgage and exist,” she said. “We also had to get planted to get a feel for things.”
Hueth said a young family from Port Angeles soon will break ground on a new home tentatively sometime this month by Cook’s home.
For more information on Habitat for Humanity of Clallam County, visit www.habitatclallam.org or call 360-681-6780.
Matthew Nash is a reporter with the Olympic Peninsula News Group, which is composed of Sound Publishing newspapers Peninsula Daily News, Sequim Gazette and Forks Forum. Reach him at [email protected].