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During a groundbreaking ceremony for their new home on a cold and rainy October day last year, tears of joy flowed down the face of 10-year-old Tyra Sifuentez.

On Wednesday afternoon, it was her mother Luppela’s turn to cry, as she walked through the harvest gold home at 2035 Lehigh Way S.E. that was constructed by students from the Community Services Consortium’s YouthBuild Program with the support of First Story, the nonprofit arm of Hayden Homes.

This is the fourth First Story home in Albany and the 50th the company has supported in Oregon, Washington and Idaho over the last 15 years.

“I love it,” the elder Sifuentez said as she took her first walk through the family’s new home. “I got to pick up the colors and it’s so nice to see how they turned out.”

Daughters Tavia, 12, and Leticia, 5, beamed as they explored their new bedrooms.

A vaulted ceiling in the open living room and kitchen area gives an airy feeling to the three-bedroom, two-bath home. The home is turnkey, including appliances and a bright green, weed-free landscaped lawn.

“We’re going to start moving in this afternoon,” Luppela said.

YouthBuild team member Anthony Middleton, 20, of Lebanon presented Sifuentez with keys to the house after telling a large crowd of neighbors and project partners how much YouthBuild has meant to him.

“This home has presented us with a lot of challenges, but it also has been a great learning experience,” said Middleton, whose goal is to own a construction company.

Hayden Watson, First Story founder and CEO of Hayden Homes, said home dedication days “give me purpose.”

“We all have work to do every day, answering phone messages or emails,” Watson said. “But days like this, you know you are part of something very special. Everyone here has made this possible.”

Wednesday was extra special for Sifuentez, who also completed the Linn-Benton Housing Authority’s Family Self-Sufficiency Program, which teaches people about the ins and outs of home ownership and money management.

She received a certificate of completion and a check from Anna Benson and Carie Tribble.

It was through the program that Sifuentez learned about First Story and became a candidate.

“Luppela has shown tremendous effort in the program,” Benson said. “We knew right away that she was going to be one of the candidates. She has tried to instill in her children the importance of home ownership and being involved in their community.”

Sifuentez went through a comprehensive interview and assessment process and was required to meet income guidelines. She will purchase the home with zero down payment and zero interest 30-year loan provided by First Story.

“It’s so exciting. It has been such an emotional process,” Sifuentez said. “It’s so surreal.”

Before a short ceremony, Parr Lumber provided a picnic lunch of grilled hamburgers, sausages and all the trimmings for the event.

Alex Paul is the Linn County reporter for the Democrat-Herald. He can be contacted at 541-812-6114 or



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