Editorial: Community hits right notes

Of the 63 houses Habitat for Humanity has constructed in the Rogue Valley, it's probably the first one built for a blind musician who played for his pad.

Bill Hahey of Ashland, a fixture of the local music scene since 1983, will take possession of the new home in Medford in March.

Hahey, 61, has been blind from birth. That didn't stop him from mastering keyboards, the guitar, the bass and the trombone, as well as singing — a daunting prospect even for a sighted person.

Hahey had some challenges to overcome to qualify for the Habitat for Humanity program as well. He owed money on the motorhome he was living in, so he had to pay off that debt first. Then, he couldn't contribute the usual "sweat equity" of helping with the construction because of liability concerns. So local churches and musicians pitched in to provide the hands-on work, and Hahey played music once a week at the Habitat Restore to fulfill his required 500 hours of work.

The local Commission for the Blind helped build and equip a recording studio in Hahey's house so he can earn money to help pay the mortgage, and a benefit concert is planned Saturday at Medford's Grape Street Bar and Grill, featuring Hahey's band, Uncle Willee and the Willetts.

Hahey's house is more than just another structure for Habitat for Humanity. The story of how it came to be is a testament to the community that helped make it happen.


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