Chris and Sampson of Talon Construction installing new metal roof on Curley's home
Seven. Seven weeks. That’s how long it took to completely renovate Northern Cheyenne elder and veteran Bilford Curley’s home. In that time we: removed and re-installed the roof, siding, doors, and windows, built a new wheelchair ramp and rear deck, upgraded the bathroom to be wheelchair accessible, installed a new kitchen and second bath, created a bonus room out of a drafty, unsafe garage, relocated the chimney and installed a stove, fixed and painted the walls, installed a solar furnace, increased the insulation factor in the ceiling, dealt with a pest infestation, and installed new laminate flooring.
Seeing the reaction of Bilford’s children after a month of being kept away made all the short nights worth it. Trevor, Tessa, Tavin, and Toran were moved to tears when they saw their newly renovated bedrooms, kitchen and bonus room. It wasn’t long before the youngest asked the most important question, “when can we move in?”
“Tonight,” was my reply, “if you want to.” To which they responded with cheers and smiles.
On August 27, Red Feather, along with Talon Construction welcomed the Curley’s home. In keeping with our tradition, we gave the family time to experience their new home without the prying eyes of others. In fact, Bilford was so overwhelmed; he stepped away for a few minutes before the entire community arrived for the open house. In all, we served a picnic BBQ to about 80 people who came by to inspect our work. Everyone was amazed by what we accomplished in so short a time.
This project was amazing because of the diversity of parties that came together to make it happen. There were the local and national companies that donated materials to support the project: US Stove donated an amazingly efficient EPA-certified woodstove to heat the front rooms of the home; SolarThermiX donated and delivered a solar furnace which will help heat the rear bedrooms and reduce the heating bill; Delta Faucets donated fixtures for both baths and the kitchen; James Hardie gave cement building products and components for the wall system; and Gallatin Valley Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore gave us various odds and ends that saved us thousands of dollars. All of these contributions led up to the overwhelming emotion and gratitude that Bilford and his family felt upon seeing the inside of the home for the first time in over four weeks.
We were also blessed with a fantastic, unbelievably hardworking, talented crew from Talon Construction and Native Energy Auditors. A special thank you to Richard Hamilton, owner of Talon; Leo Campbell, owner of Native Energy Auditors, Justin Fourhorns, Chris Littlecoyote, Brenda, Shania, Lori Clubfoot, Doug Waples (coming to help on his days off), another – who wishes to remain anonymous, and last but not least Sampson.
Red Feather also appreciates the guidance and partnership of the Northern Cheyenne tribal officials. The tribe covered almost sixty percent of the project costs. Specifically, the Northern Cheyenne Housing Improvement Program (NCHIP) supported the modernization of the home, while the Northern Cheyenne Tribal Housing Authority (NCTH) supported the project with in-kind donations of materials.
USDA’s Rural Development office even provided support in the form of a grant for the Curleys.
We were grateful to have the volunteers from Catholic Heart Work Camp and Group Work Camp assisting in the crucial early weeks; and stalwart volunteers Shawn Simpson, Ellary Kramka (RF’s new AmeriCorps VISTA), and Elsa Hoover also were a huge help to the paid local workers.
Bilford shared a story shortly before a Sun Dance priest blessed the home and food. The story was his history of housing. When he was young, his family life was good, but as he got older, alcohol tore his family apart. He left at a young age, deciding to live in his car for over two years instead of that destructive situation. When he first moved into the home we just finished renovating, the garage was full to the ceiling with trash, cockroaches and mice and there were so many holes in the walls you could see into the back bedrooms from the kitchen. Never in a million years did he expect to live in such a beautiful and modernized home. This home is for his children. This is why this project was so important, because every one deserves a healthy, warm and energy efficient home. With enormous gratitude, we thank the generous people, agencies, and corporations mentioned above, and all the support of friends, family and strangers who gave to the project on gofundme.org, that allowed Red Feather to give this man and his family the hand up he’s been asking for since 2007.
Thank you to all of you who have assisted Red Feather along the way. Through thick and thin you have been there and sustained us. We would not have been in position to do this important work without you. We humbly ask for your continued support so that we can help more families in need. Red Feather’s annual fundraising drive is fast approaching. If you plan to give to Red Feather this year, please consider giving early so that we can maintain this great positive momentum.