HURRICANE — Samuel Engbretsen, his wife Linda and their daughter Lilly will soon have their future home.

Habitat for Humanity of Southwest Utah recently broke ground on their 26th home. The event on Jan. 30 included staff, volunteers, donors, sponsors and dignitaries from Hurricane City.

“Being on the family selection committee is probably the hardest part of my job,” Krista Longhurst, executive director at the nonprofit, told St. George News. “Because we are seeing all of the need for affordable housing in our community, and having to ultimately say no to most of them.”

Samuel Engbretsen considered himself and his family very lucky to be selected as a participant for a house.

“I personally didn’t put too much faith in it, to be honest,” he said. “I normally don’t consider myself that fortunate.”

Samuel, Linda and Lilly Engbretsen are the 26th recipients of a new home courtesy of Habitat for Humanity, Hurricane, Utah, Jan. 30, 2024 | Photo by Bridger Palmer, St. George News

Chosen by the Habitat for Humanity board, Linda and Samuel Engbretsen have already embarked on their journey by contributing sweat equity hours at the Habitat ReStores in Hurricane and Cedar City.

Over the past 26 years, Habitat for Humanity of Southwest Utah has constructed 25 homes in Washington County, helping more than 125 residents and family members achieve the dream of homeownership.

“The best part of my job is getting to say yes to one of them,” Longhurst said.

Samuel Engbretsen has Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, which affects connective tissue, primarily in the skin, joints and blood vessel walls. He said symptoms include overly flexible joints that can dislocate, skin that’s translucent, elastic and bruises easily.

His daughter Lilly, 10, will soon be affected by it, too.

He said he found it hard to ask for help when he first applied.

“I couldn’t accept that some things were beyond my control,” he said. “Because despite being a definite pale shade of green and feeling my consciousness fading, I was still trying to be in control.”

This new home will be built with accommodations that will make his life easier and allow his support system to assist him as his condition worsens.

“Everything’s handicap accessible,” Linda Engbretsen said. “The hallways are wider, so they’ll accommodate wheelchairs later on. The entry is big enough, the doors are wide. The idea is that as the disease gets worse, the house will be prepared for the progression.”

Part of what makes Habitat for Humanity’s homes special is that furnishing is done through donations.

“These items were donated, but part of the fun is getting to make them our own,” she said.

There will be something for everyone in their new place, with nobody left out.

“I’m excited for my new room,” she added.

This Habitat home is made possible by the support of sponsors such as Eccles Foundation, Sorensen Legacy, S & S Home Builders and past Habitat homeowners. Additionally, the home is being built in memory of Habitat for Humanity of Southwest Utah founders, Paul and Gloria Reynolds.

Established in 1998, Habitat for Humanity of Southwest Utah aims to build safe, decent and affordable housing in collaboration with families in Washington County falling within 30-80% of the area’s median income. The organization envisions a world where everyone has a decent place to live, emphasizing that through shelter, lives can be positively transformed.

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