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Habitat for Humanity honors woman for house donation

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MASSENA — A Massena woman who donated a house to Raquette Valley Habitat for Humanity was recognized for her contribution this week.

Members of the local Habitat for Humanity chapter held an open house Thursday at Emmanuel Congregational Church for Barbara W. Westcott, who had donated her home in 2011, making her gift the largest donation ever made to Raquette Valley Habitat for Humanity.

The house on Marie Street was sold; the proceeds, along with other donations, will be used to build a home for a qualifying family at a site already owned by Habitat in Norwood.

“I knew it needed painting and some upkeep work that I wasn’t able to do. My husband and I had always done it, and I didn’t want to get into contractors,” Mrs. Westcott said.

One day, she said, she thought about donating the home to Habitat for Humanity and then followed through with that idea.

“I know Norma (J. LaPointe, Habitat board member). I used to play bridge with her mother, so I called her,” Mrs. Westcott said. “I knew it was time. I had to do something. I was pretty sure I had enough to live all right.”

She said Habitat partners went in and painted and freshened up the house before turning it over to a real estate agent to be put on the market.

Mrs. LaPointe said village and town officials, service organizations, attorneys, businesses and tradesmen, donors, painters and laborers helped to prepare the house for sale.

Cynthia Y. Atkins was the president of Raquette Valley Habitat for Humanity at the time Mrs. Westcott donated the house to the organization.

“We were excited. We had to check the home out and see the condition and then use it as a fundraiser. It was the first time anybody ever donated a house to us,” Ms. Atkins said.

“The donation of the whole house to Habitat is a first. It has never happened before,” board member David VanEpps said.

“If you’re on the board of a nonprofit that has to raise money to build a house, it’s a huge gift,” he said.

For Mrs. Westcott and her family, it was the end of association with a home they had moved into in 1956.

“It would have been 56 years this year,” Mrs. Westcott said, noting she had three children at the time the family moved into the home.

Although the event was supposed to be a surprise, Mrs. Westcott said, she figured it out before her arrival at the church. She had been told by family members that they were taking her out to dinner.

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