Homeowner Spotlight: Tait Graham


How did you first hear about Habitat for Humanity?

I heard about Habitat for Humanity when my friend Jim Wolfgang was chosen for a home about 10 years ago.

Can you tell us about your current housing situation?

It is difficult. I live with my daughter and our dog Cookies in employee housing in the basement of the building I work in. My rent is 50% of what Community Entry Services, my employer, pays me. The biggest problem is the flooding. Every March or April when the snow starts to melt the groundwater raises and our apartment floods. Then the snow from the parking lot and roof melts and makes the problem much worse. By May, there is usually two inches of water in my daughter’s room and my carpet is completely soaked. Two years ago, I woke up to water pouring from the ceiling onto my bed, desk, and in my closet. It was coming through the seams in the sheetrock. The ceiling nearly collapsed from the weight of the trapped water. My daughter’s room and the bathroom were also flooding from the ceiling.

By July, it’s usually dry after Servpro comes and installs two huge loud dehumidifiers but the horrible smell persists into August. At that point, we have to move everything into the kitchen so they can replace the sheetrock and carpet in the bedrooms and bathroom. Last year that took a week. We have done this for 5 years. My employer Community Entry Services has tried to fix it but apparently, there is nothing that can be done. I still felt grateful for consistent housing after moving so often before we got this apartment.

What is your favorite task on the job site?

I really like doing siding and flooring. It is great to see the progress. It is also fun to use saws and nail guns and it feels so much like building something. Siding was especially fun on the scaffolding when the weather is warm.

Do you have any stories about getting your volunteer hours in?

When Covid hit, I was worried about completing my friends and family portion of my volunteer hours. I had a lot of family planning on coming throughout the summer and they were not able to. In general, it was difficult to ask anyone to put themselves or family at risk by volunteering. (Editors note: the risk here is in reference to the pandemic) By the time we were shut down for a second time, my friends and family hours were completed. It really was unbelievable and such a relief. Wonderful people like Don Cushman, Matt Hare, and Augusta Friedsmith had made large contributions to my hours through their hard work. I have completed all my volunteer hours and now the hours I will earn before closing can be donated to my neighbors and I am grateful for that opportunity.

 How will you decorate your home/make it your own?

I haven’t had the time to give that very much thought. I have agreed to give my daughter complete control in that department. People are so generous with furniture and other items that I am not worried about furnishing our home at all. I am very relieved to have saved enough for the appliances that Habitat has arranged.

 Is there anyone you want to thank?

It’s so hard to even know where to start. Unfortunately, I’m sure I will forget someone that has been crucial to this miracle. It has been such a fun time building my neighbors and my home with everybody from Habitat and the volunteers. I am so grateful for this home and it makes me so happy to see how happy my daughter is. Specifically, I would like to thank- Don Cushman, Kaeli McClenahan, Kai and Simone, Brandon West, Peter Wood, Nick, Tony Cross, Olga Salmina, Matt Hare, Wendy Martinez, Nick ‘Styx’ Staron, Kris Greenville, Augusta Friendsmith, Elizabeth Ferguson, Jackson Hole High School Honor Society and my nephew Robby Gilmore. I would also like to thank all the sponsors, builders and I am unendingly grateful to the Board of Habitat for Humanity of the Greater Teton Area. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!