SARATOGA SPRINGS — Kristina Toomey’s 10-year-old son, Cam, has already scoped out their new home.
There’s a sly hideaway space inside his closet, an unfinished attic and loft space that he plans to make his game room and there’s a perfect spot in the backyard for a pool.
“It’s bigger, it’s my house now,” Cam said as he showed off his new room. “I can kind of do whatever I want.”
A small crawlspace inside of his bedroom closet can make for a nice reading nook or place to sneak away from mom and at least for now ranks as Cam’s favorite part of the house.
“I don’t know how long he will fit there,” Kristina said of the small hideaway.
Cam also has his eyes on the upstairs and yet-to-be-finished attic with loft space and a massive picture window and pitched ceiling. It could be a game room or, in the future, a bedroom with more privacy from mom, whose room is downstairs.
Built and purchased with the help of Habitat for Humanity of Northern Saratoga, Warren and Washington Counties, Cam and Kristina move into their new home Saturday, just in time for Cam to start a new school year in fifth grade at Greenfield Elementary School. The home sits on a previously-wooded lot just over an acre off Locust Grove Road on the outskirts of Saratoga Springs. Habitat purchased the steeply-sloping lot with the support of funding from the city of Saratoga Springs.
Mother and son will be moving from Jefferson Terrace, where they have been renting a place. Kristina works at Sunmark Credit Union and applied to Habitat for Humanity in January 2019. Construction on the home was slated to start around March, just as the COVID-19 pandemic forced the nonprofit to limit its volunteer hours. Habitat homes are typically built with a battalion of volunteers who dedicate time during the week and on weekends to raise a home from bare ground.
Adam Feldman, executive director of the local Habitat chapter, said the volunteer restrictions meant Kristina and her family members had to invest more of their own sweat equity than is typical, spending time after work and on weekends helping with construction.
Volunteers were ultimately able to pitch in, Feldman said, with a local club baseball team and people from the Tang Museum volunteering time. A group of volunteers from the U.S. Navy recently helped construct a massive retaining wall in the side yard. During a formal ribbon-cutting at the new home Thursday – the Habitat chapter’s 31st in the area – Feldman noted how the pandemic stay-at-home order served as a reminder of how important home ownership can be. He said Habitat strives to be the “untrappers,” helping families who can’t save enough money for a down payment because their rent costs more than what a home mortgage would cost.
“It really reminds us how important things are that some people take for granted that not everyone can,” Feldman said at the ribbon-cutting, where he, Kristina and Cam were joined by volunteers and local elected officials.
To get the house, Toomey had to make a $2,500 down payment and qualify for a mortgage.
The lot slopes steeply toward a woodland area, offering calm and quiet a few short miles from downtown Saratoga Springs. “I had a dream I saw a bear back there,” Kristina said of their backyard.
The kitchen is outfitted with granite counters and the living space is open and flows easily from one area to the next. Large windows welcome in light and the interior frame of the home includes timber donated by strangers through a local Curtis Lumber store. While it’s not visible to a visitor, the timber boards are signed by the people who donated them.
While she was standing in the middle of her new living room, a volunteer came up to Kirstina and told her she hoped the new home helped make “all of your dreams” become reality.
“We will be here for a long time,” Kristina said.