By Maegan Murray, WSU Tri-Cities

PASCO, Wash. – After a year of planning, thousands of volunteer hours and a whole lot of hard work, Tri-County Partners Habitat for Humanity and Washington State University Tri-Cities are set to present a Burmese family with the keys to their first home.

WSU Tri-Cities students work on construction of the home.

Members of the community are invited to attend a dedication of the Tri-Cities Coug House at noon Saturday, Aug. 27, at the home’s site, 304 N. Charles St., Pasco.

“It’s been great seeing how we’ve all come together as a community to make this family’s first home a reality,” said Brent Ellis, the WSU Tri-Cities student volunteer coordinator who led construction. “In addition to the volunteer efforts, students got to put their skills from the classroom to work on the house.”

WSU Tri-Cities signed a partnership agreement with Tri-County Partners Habitat for Humanity to build the home in August 2015. The house is one of 24 constructed as part of Habitat’s Whitehouse Addition.

The dedication will include comments by Ellis and Habitat for Humanity Executive Director Lisa Godwin, followed by lunch provided by the family and a self-guided tour of the home.

The homeowners, who escaped their home country of Burma during war, include Mah Thu Sha La, his wife Lu Dee Na and their three children. They lived for years in a Thailand refugee camp before getting green cards in 2011. Last year, they were approved for a home in partnership with Habitat for Humanity.

The new homeowners, the Sha La family.

The family has dedicated 500 hours of sweat equity, which is required for them to purchase the home with a no-interest 20-year mortgage. More than 150 volunteers from WSU Tri-Cities and the Tri-Cities community contributed to the construction.

“Everyone benefited from this first-of-its kind partnership,” Ellis said, adding that it generated partnerships among many groups around the Tri-Cities community.

For more information, contact Amber Eubanks, WSU Tri-Cities community engagement specialist, at, or Roddie Shanley, Habitat family services and site coordinator, at