Habitat for Humanity: New Home Given to Chehalis Couple


Just in time for Christmas, Jim and Jeanette Southmayd were awarded a house by the Greater Lewis County Habitat for Humanity on Saturday.

A ceremony was held after two years of work and more than 2,000 hours of volunteer labor was funneled into the project.

The Southmayds were happy to finally receive the home, and Jeanette said it would make their lives much easier. Prior to the house, they were living in a fifth-wheel in Centralia, a less than ideal location for the pair.

Bound to a wheelchair, Jim is disabled, and the challenges presented with the fifth-wheel made it hard for Jeanette to care for him, she said.

“The feeling still seems surreal,” she said of her new home. “It’s just phenomenal. That’s the only way to describe it.”

Jay Myhre, of Habitat for Humanity, said the turnover marked thousands of hours of hard work and community involvement for a project that helped improve lives. 

“This has been a long trip for them, starting with the application process, being picked as the recipient, and over 500 hours of sweat equity, which is one of the requirements of Habitat home ownership,” he said.

Other board members said they had not seen a homeowner work as hard as Jeanette did on the home. 

Habitat for Humanity received about 20 applications for the house, but ultimately decided to award it to the Southmayds. 

It marked the 14th home constructed by Greater Lewis County Habitat for Humanity, an effort that began in 1993. 

It was not a typical build, according to board members of Habitat for Humanity. It included handicap access and was the first house to be built with a garage. 

“It’s a good feeling,” Doug Peterson, production manager for the project, said. “It’s another notch in our belt.”

The house, located at 626 NW Gertrude St., in Chehalis, sits on a lot that was long ago utilized as housing for people working on the train line. The building burned down in the early 1940s, and later another building was used as a boarding house for a number of years. 

The structure on the property was deemed unsafe, torn down and sectioned into two lots for two separate houses.

“There was no way to save it,” Peterson said.

The construction of a second house, located adjacent to the new one, will begin in April, he said. 

The project brought together many people outside of Habitat for Humanity, as businesses, individuals and organizations donated to the project. Peterson said it was the most support Habitat for humanity has received for a housing project.

“This is by far the most that people have donated,” he said. 

Richard Tausch, assistant production manager, said it is a good feeling to have the project finished. The most rewarding part is knowing the home is going to someone who needs it, he said. 

Although the project helped one family, board member Ken Johnson said the need in the area is great. 

“I don’t think I’ll see the day when people won’t need houses,” he said. “It’s a never-ending project.”

The monthly cost for the home is $600. Habitat for Humanity manages the homeowners’ no interest mortgage. Thanks to donations from Grocery Outlet, the house was stocked with food and utensils. 

Commissioner Edna Fund thanked Habitat for the work they do in the community.

“What wonderful work you do,” she said at the ceremony. “Thanks for all you do for Lewis County.”