A Christian housing ministry that began its work in Orangeburg County in 1991 is continuing to make dreams of homeownership come true with the dedication of its 84th home.
Bowman resident Charisse Holman and her two young children now have a new home on Gandy Road with the help of Edisto Habitat for Humanity.
"I'm just excited and blessed. It's a real eye opener. It shows you how good people really are. You see everybody come together as a whole family to just make something possible for someone," Holman said.
She added, "They are not being selfish. They are committing a selfless act to give a home to a family."
To be eligible for a Habitat home, families must meet certain criteria, including having good work and credit histories. Families are chosen by a subcommittee based on level of need, willingness to become partners in the program and ability to repay a 25-year, no-interest mortgage.
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.
"As you go forward with the program and you become more comfortable, it just makes you value your home a lot more because you know that you helped do this. It just makes you appreciate the whole process even more," Holman said.
She said her daughter is equally excited about having a new home.
"She is ready to get in there and decorate. She's ready to put her touch of purple and blue everywhere. My son is just two. He's just excited," Holman said.
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Last month’s dedication ceremony was especially meaningful for Edisto Habitat for Humanity Executive Director Jessica Burgoyne, who started as the affiliate's new leader in January.
"That was my first house with this affiliate and our 84th home that has been done in this community, which is really amazing," Burgoyne said.
"Walker Industries was one of biggest sponsors on the build. We have a lot of sponsors that support us. It is life changing. I like to help and serve as a passionate voice for the advocacy of affordable housing. With Charisse, it really is about community impact," the executive director said.
Affordable housing “not only strengthens individuals and families, but it strengthens entire communities. That's why I love this work," Burgoyne said.
Edisto Habitat for Humanity volunteer Mike Holinko presented Holman with a gift during the dedication ceremony. He is no stranger to volunteer work, having started with the local Boy Scout Troop in his hometown of Denville, New Jersey.
"I started with Habitat for Humanity in my hometown back in 2008. I've been with Edisto Habitat for five years. I've worked on 13 different homes and we're working on house number 85 in Cordova right now," he said.
The ministry held a groundbreaking ceremony for the 85th home on April 6.
For more information on Edisto Habitat for Humanity, how to become a donor, volunteer or homeowner, call 803-536-2300 or visit www.edistohabitatforhumanity.org.