Habitat Kauaʻi Helps Homesteader Rebuild from Ashes

Posted on Oct 11, 2014 in Department of Hawaiian Home Lands, Media Releases

ANAHOLA, KAUAʻI – After their home burnt to the ground in a fire three years ago, Debbie and Elvis Fitzgerald-Troche have rebuilt their lives and are returning to the Anahola Hawaiian homestead lot Debbieʻs family has called home since the 1970’s.

“Its such an emotional thing when you lose your home and everything in it,” said Catherine Shiningstar Kaʻauwai of Habitat Humanity Kauaʻi, who worked closely with Fitzgerald-Troche over the years to put a home back on her lot.

Fortunately, both Debbie and Elvis survived the fire. Debbie was not home when the fire broke out, but Elvis did sustain burns to his upper body. Unfortunately Fitzgerald-Troche did not have fire insurance to cover the damage.

Fitzgerald-Troche approached Ka’auwai after the 2011 fire to see if Habitat could offer any help in rebuilding. No immediate assistance was available, but Kaʻauwai and the Habitat ʻOhana received a rare home donation, and knew exactly what to do with it.

“When we got to talk about what we would do with the home, because we donʻt really get a lot of donated homes, we knew Debbie wanted to rebuild, and we wanted to offer this hoe to be moved to her property,” said Kaʻauwai.

The 3-bedroom, 2-bathroom home was gifted to Habitat by the ʻOhana Toulon. The Toulons built the 1,200-square-foot home in Koloa’s Kahili Mountain Park, and later realized the home was not a good fit for them. Habitat soon heard of the Toulonʻs predicament.

“We would rent those cabins for our Global Village volunteers, so we had a working relationship with the Seventh-Day Adventist for many years,” said Kaʻauwai.

The Hawaiian Conference of Seventh-Day Adventist Church operates the Kahili Mountain Park cabins. Much to Habitatʻs surprise Justin Toulon, his wife Jeanne, and their kids Eric and Tiare, were already familiar with Habitatʻs work because they had seen it in Louisiana, and decided to donate the home to Kauaʻi Habitat.

“They (the Toulons) even agreed to pay a portion of the moving fee to move the house to Anahola,” said Kaʻauwai.

Since the fire, the Fitzgerald-Troches started building up credit and paid off old debt to qualify for a loan, and racked those sweat equity hours by working in the Kaua’i Habitat ReStore. And through it all, the Fitzgerald-Troches never missed a homestead payment.

“Debbie has such an amazing work ethic. She is dedicated. So when a permanent position opened up at the ReStore, we offered her the position,” said Kaʻauwai.

Yesterday, Kaʻauwai and the Kauaʻi Habitat ʻOhana handed Debbie and Elvis the keys to their rebuilt home – a foundation upon which the Fitzgerald-Troches can build an even better future.