Families settle into new Habitat in Lynn

LYNN – When Habitat for Humanity dedicated a new house in the Highlands Sunday, it represented not only the continued rebirth of a neighborhood but also an exciting home ownership opportunity for three immigrant families.?We?re very excited,” said Catherine Kalunde, who is moving into one of the three units at 6 Grover St. with her husband, Paul, and their 3-year-old son. “We have to pinch ourselves. It?s like the American Dream come true.”Catherine and Paul Kalunde are from Kenya. She came to U.S. in 2005 after receiving a scholarship from the University of Maryland Eastern Shore. She graduated in 2009 with a degree in agribusiness and minor in accounting, and went into the Army on a recruiting program that allows legal non-citizens to enlist if they possess certain language and culture skills. She is now in the Army Reserves.Paul Kalunde came to the U.S. a year after his then-girlfriend. He settled in the area because he had siblings living in Boston. He works for Bridgewell. The couple, who will be moving to Lynn from Beverly, were married at Sacred Heart Church in 2010.?To come from where we did trying to figure out how to survive in the states and have this come our way is a huge deal,” said Catherine, who learned of the Habitat for Humanity opportunity from Kristine Babcock, who runs the Veterans Club at North Shore Community College, where she took culinary arts classes.Catherine, who worked as a cook in the Army, is in the accounting department at the new Walmart in Saugus. Sunday Agebedun is moving into one of the Grover Street units with his three children: Kingsley, a senior at Lynn English; Elizabeth, a freshman at English; and David, a sixth-grader at Marshall Middle School. A native of Nigeria, he came to the U.S. in 2003 and brought his children here in 2009. He earned a master?s degree in math from Salem State and is working as a learning specialist in math at North Shore Community College.?This will be a very good experience, especially for the kids,” said Agebedun, who has been living in a one-bedroom Lynn apartment with his three children. “It will allow them to settle down as they get their education.”Agebedun earned a master?s in mechanical engineering in Nigeria but found he needed to take courses after coming to the U.S. He took a few at UMass Lowell before transferring to Salem State, where he went for two years part-time while working as a home health care provider for people with disabilities.Nigerian natives Frederick and Sylvia Otokunrin will be moving into the first floor of 6 Grover St. with their three children. They are grateful for not only Habitat for Humanity, but the legion of volunteers who worked on the house.?There were so many volunteers, I can?t even remember their names,” Frederick said.Sylvia Otokunrin graduated from Suffolk Law, recently passed the bar exam and plans to open a law office in Lynn. Frederick works in the human-services industry. The family currently lives in an apartment in Lynn.Habitat for Humanity paid $140,000 for the foreclosed home using funds from the Lynn Housing Authority & Neighborhood Development (LHAND), which in 2007 built the Buffum Estates development on nearby Herbert Street, creating eight home ownership units. As long as income-eligible families are living there, Habitat does not have to repay the money, and the note will be retired over 20 years, according to Don Preston, board president for the North Shore chapter of Habitat for Humanity.?(LHAND) has been a great partner,” Preston said. “They have been with us every step of the way in this process.”?Habitat does great work for first-time homebuyers,” said LHAND Executive Director Charles Gaeta. “Their volunteers are among the most dedicated people we have worked with. We were happy to participate in this project.”The year-long process to completely rebuild a run-down home and convert it into three condominium units was highlighted by an impressive spirit of collaboration and volunteerism among a vari

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