Sheila’s Story

I moved to Moab in 2005.  Within weeks, I was in love with the place and the community.  I felt like I had come home.  I wanted to stay.  I found that I had a passion for teaching and settled into a rewarding (although low-paying) role as an educator in this wonderful town.

For a handful of years, I was fortunate enough to be able to rent a small, 250 square foot house from a friend, and when rent and housing prices started to go up, I was unaffected for the most part.  But then, the house I was renting started to have problems: it was old and poorly constructed (including not having a foundation) and it was clear that it would need major reconstruction.  I started looking for other housing, but rent had gone up so much as to be unreasonable on my salary.  Owning a home seemed unbelievably unattainable, even though everyone told me that if I wanted to stay here long-term, that was what I should do.  I wasn’t sure if I would be able to stay here, especially if something major went wrong with the house I was living in.

Then I heard about Community Rebuilds.


It was, in my view, the perfect solution: environmentally conscious, community oriented, affordable.  When I first looked into the program, it didn’t seem like a good fit because I didn’t own the place I lived in that was falling apart and I had a very large student loan debt that prevented me from qualifying.  I spent a couple of years paying down the student loan, and Community Rebuilds started helping people by getting the land needed to build their homes.

Sheila with founder of Community Rebuilds, Emily Niehaus.

I finally qualified and participated in the program during the first half of 2019.  There really are no words for the amazingness of the experience: participating in the growth of a home alongside close to two dozen volunteers from around the country who actively dove into our community while they were here.

A bedroom in Sheila’s house.

I am so grateful that I finally have a house here in this place that I have considered home for nearly 15 years.  I am so grateful that I am living in a house that was built with love and care for the world with sustainable techniques and materials by people who are passionate about building not just houses, but also communities.  I am so grateful that I live in a neighborhood surrounded by the families I teach and care about.  And I am so grateful that I now get to call this beautiful place home for good.

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