'Desperately needed': 3 families receive Habitat for Humanity homes in Kearns

Salt Lake Valley Habitat for Humanity on Tuesday presented three families the keys to their new homes in Kearns.

Salt Lake Valley Habitat for Humanity on Tuesday presented three families the keys to their new homes in Kearns. (Salt Lake Valley Habitat for Humanity)


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KEARNS — The Field of Dreams community in Kearns gained three more families on Tuesday, bringing the community to 90% completion.

Salt Lake Valley Habitat for Humanity acquired the 2-acre parcel where the 20-unit development is forming in 2015. Once complete, the neighborhood will surround a community park with energy-efficient homes that are "easy to maintain, making the long-term cost of homeownership more affordable," the organization says.

Three new homeowners received their keys, along with a 30-year, interest-free mortgage, on Tuesday. Each homeowner invested 225 hours into the development and learned skills to maintain their homes. Each family was presented with a toolbox by Salt Lake Valley Habitat for Humanity developers as a symbol of that work.

Over the years, the group has helped over 700 families with home repairs and 115 families become homeowners in Salt Lake County.

Angela Degollado and her three children were one of those families on Tuesday.

"Stories of strength like Angela's just showcase the amazing humans that come through this program, and they persevere even when they have doubts. And even when they're working through fear, they still come through and hopefully can continue to just trust the process," said Carin Crowe, Salt Lake Valley Habitat for Humanity's newly appointed CEO.

"She has the brightest smile and the strongest heart, and I'm so grateful that we are all here to witness Angela's miracle today," she said.

The Field of Dreams property had seen several lives before it was purchased by Habitat for Humanity. It was once home to Camp Kearns, a basic training facility for replacement troops during WWII. The camp helped Kearns become the third-largest city in Utah, with 40,000 residents in the early 1940s, and later closed as an active base in 1946.

The building and its materials were auctioned off in 1948 and purchased by seven men who installed Stewart Field, home to Kearns American Baseball. The ball field saw several great players in its time, including former MLB player Brandon Duckworth, who attended Kearns High School. Then as other fields began to pop up around the state, Stewart Field fell out of use in the years before Habitat for Humanity acquired it.

After the death of Arlo James — one of the seven men who created Stewart Field— his wife managed the fields until she became sick, and its debt became difficult to pay.

"We sold it to them because it was a good thing to do. That's what was in the heart of those seven men, was making Kearns great," said Sandy Mamales, the James' daughter.

The rise and fall of the former field has been witnessed by a generation of Kearns residents who played on the field and later led service projects with youth on the field.

"We so desperately needed to see something like this in our community. I grew up in Kearns; I am a product of Kearns," said Charles Henderson, former board member of Salt Lake Valley Habitat for Humanity. "But this is a great opportunity to be able to share and participate in this event — because, like I said, I'm a part of this community, and it's an investment in this community."

That investment was represented by the three homeowners on Tuesday.

Degollado was emotional, watching her children pick out bedrooms in their new home.

"It's overwhelming for a mom, to know that you can put up a picture and leave it up," she said.

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Ashley Fredde covers human services and women's issues for KSL.com. She also enjoys reporting on arts, culture and entertainment news. She's a graduate of the University of Arizona.

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