Big Island youth come together to build tiny home for family in need

  • From left, Stephen Goss, Tanya Jernigan, Caleb Jernigan, Nikki Littlefield, J.C. Littlefield, Sandy Littlefield, Ivette Goss and Habitat for Humanity Hawaii Island Executive Director Patrick Hurney, center, pose for a photo in front of the finished tiny home. (Courtesy photo/Habitat for Humanity)

  • From left, J.C. Littlefield, Nikki Littlefield and Caleb Jernigan stand in the fully finished interior of the tiny home they built for a family in need.

  • Nikki and J.C. Littlefield measure wood while building a tiny home.

  • J.C. Littlefield and Caleb Jernigan load lumber onto a truck for a tiny home they have built for a family in need. (Courtesy photos/Habitat for Humanity)

Instead of spending time with friends or working over the summer, three Hawaii Island young adults volunteered for months and built a tiny home from scratch for a family in need.

After learning about the number of homeless on the island, Caleb Jernigan, Nikki Littlefield and J.C. Littlefield decided to come together to build a quality, affordable house for a household of two.

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“While living here, I’ve realized that it is so hard for anyone to live on this island,” Jernigan said. “People work multiple jobs and can barely make ends meet.

“I found that God was calling me to give back to people living through homelessness, because all of us deserve a home,” Jernigan continued.

Although they were undeterred, Jernigan and the Littlefields did not know how to build a home, so they partnered with Stephen Goss and Chad Unrein, co-owners of Mockingbird Tiny Homes, who helped guide the build to ensure the house would meet county building standards.

After finishing the 208-square-foot home, the three donated it to Habitat for Humanity Hawaii Island, so the organization could find the perfect residents for the new tiny house.

Hoping to learn new skills in carpentry, Jernigan, 22, was excited to be part of the community service project for multiple reasons. With help from Goss and Unrein, Jernigan has been able to acquire skills in home-building and renovations.

“After working for three months, I can say that I’m capable to help anyone with their houses,” Jernigan said. “It’s a valuable skill, and I feel more capable as a human from this experience.”

Jernigan and the Littlefields, along with friends and family, worked eight-hour days from April to August through sun and rain while solving any issues that arose.

“It’s blood, sweat and hard work. You get hurt, there is a lot of heavy lifting, a lot of trial and error,” Jernigan said. “I found that doing a good job became extremely important to me, because I wanted the future homeowners to have a beautiful, quality home to live in.”

After seeing it all come together after months of work, Jernigan felt fulfilled and excited to be part of the experience.

“One of the hardest things to do was painting the whole exterior of the house, so finishing that was truly awesome,” Jernigan said. “The fact that we built a good, solid house from the ground up is very satisfying, and I definitely want to be a part of something like this again.”

The home is currently stored at the Habitat for Humanity Hawaii Island Kona ReStore, where qualifying households can apply for the house beginning today. Applicants must be in need of a permanent home and have land, or agree to live on a lot in Ocean View currently owned by Habitat.

Interested residents will have an opportunity to view the home at an open house at the Kona ReStore, 73-4161 Ulu Wini Place, Bay 1, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. today and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday.

For those who cannot attend the open house, Habitat will be posting a virtual tour on its website at habitathawaiiisland.org this Saturday.

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Applications will be available through the Family Services Manager Jane Mireles at 808-331-8010 ext. 110 or the Family Services Coordinator Adrienne Eisele at 808-217-9542.

Email Kelsey Walling at kwalling@hawaiitribune-herald.com

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