A Christian housing ministry that works in partnership with people in need to build simple, decent houses was happy to help make the home ownership dreams of a family come true for the 88th time.
Edisto Habitat for Humanity officials gathered Jan. 25 at 1070 Kings Road in Orangeburg to break ground on a home for Orangeburg resident Roselyn Thomas.
“It’s a very rewarding feeling. We’re so blessed to be able to continue this work for the community and help serve families and change their lives one home at a time,” EHFH Executive Director Jessica Burgoyne said.
“We have a wonderful volunteer base. Obviously, we can always use more and really enjoy the partnerships that we have. We are engaging in new partnerships all the time. There’s just a very good momentum for this type of work to really help stabilize communities by providing affordable housing,” she said.
Thomas, the mother of an 11-year-old daughter, was appreciative of the efforts that have gone into making her new home a reality.
“It means a lot. It starts a journey of coming from a family that may not have had the tools to actually become a homeowner. ... It’s possible that we can own a home. You have to put the right tools in place and use them, but it’s very much possible. So it’s not just a dream,” Thomas said.
“It can be a goal that you set and something that you can accomplish. I’m delighted because I get a chance to show my daughter, my only child, that it can be done,” she said.
Edisto Habitat for Humanity began its work helping provide affordable housing options in Orangeburg County in 1991.
To be eligible for a Habitat home, families must meet certain criteria, including having good work and credit histories. A subcommittee chooses families based on level of need, willingness to become partners in the program and ability to repay a 25-year, no-interest mortgage.
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Qualified families are also required to put in 350 hours of what is called "sweat equity" toward the building of their home, and they must participate in budgeting classes and attend home ownership classes on a monthly basis
Thomas said it has been a pleasure meeting and working with all of the EHFH volunteers along the way.
“It’s a beautiful experience. A lot of times we think of volunteers or other people coming in to help the community. We think, ‘OK, well that’s good,’ but we never think, ‘Hey, why don’t I get involved and give back?’ They have so many people that’s rallying up for me, that’s coming out and showing support and helping out,” Thomas said.
She added, “It’s a remarkable thing. I don’t think I will ever view people in the same way as I have for the past two years. It’s made me open my eyes that there’s a lot more I can do. I can give back, I can continue with this program to help other families.
“It doesn’t just stop with me. Once I get my house built, it’s not going to stop. It has made me realize that giving back is such a rewarding feeling.”
Burgoyne said there are many ways individuals can volunteer with EHFH.
“We have a lot of committees. There’s a lot of ways for people to come and participate. There’s many committees. There’s not just our building committee,” Burgoyne said.
“We have an active Home Store which also promotes financial stability in the community, It provides goods and services at a reduced rate for families to be able to access quality items just to help their families. It also helps to fulfill our mission as well. There’s a lot of ways to get involved,” she said.
Thomas said, “I wish more people would get involved. I wish more people would actually learn about the program and give it a chance. You actually grow with people, you actually meet people who are really supportive and caring. They can teach you a whole lot.”
Allied Air is the premier sponsor of Habitat’s 88th home for the Thomas family. Construction began immediately after the groundbreaking ceremony.
Burgoyne said a Women’s Build Day will be held on March 7 for the Thomas home as well as on April 4 for construction of what Burgoyne said will be Habitat’s 89th home.
“That is in partnership with Lowe’s. Women’s Build Days are where you have active women in the community in various organizations” come out and work on a home, she said.
“It’s going to be great. We look to have some ladies from the Delta Sigma Theta sorority, Links, the EmpowerHer Orangeburg Chapter of the American Business Women’s Association and many others that have already mentioned interest in participating on that day. It’s done with a Lowe’s Women’s Build grant. It’s about $5,000 that Lowe’s provides,” Burgoyne said.
For more information on EHFH, how to become a donor, volunteer or homeowner, call 803-536-2300 or visit www.edistohabitatforhumanity.org.
Contact the writer: firstname.lastname@example.org or 803-533-5534. Follow "Good News with Gleaton" on Twitter at @DionneTandD
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