Latonia Clark couldn’t hold back tears of joy as she accepted the keys to her new home last week.
The Orangeburg mother of three was the recipient of a home built just for her and her family by Edisto Habitat for Humanity. It is the 78th home built by the organization since its beginning in 1991.
“I feel great,” Clark said. “It’s something new and something I went through for a while to try to get, but I made it through.”
To receive her new home, Clark put in more than 350 hours of service with the organization. It took more than a year and a half. In that time, she helped build nine other homes for other families in need.
“We’re so excited for her and we’re so proud of her,” said Jamie Wood, executive director of Edisto Habitat for Humanity. “She has done an awesome job of meeting the requirements for the program.”
“She’s done everything we asked her to do, and I’m just so, so proud of her,” Wood added.
The home was made possible by a partnership with Canadian firm Walker Emulsions. Dedicated to giving back to the communities in which they do business, the company has previously helped Habitat for Humanity in Canada, but this was its first build in the U.S.
And there will be more, said Archie Reynolds, executive vice president of Walker Emulsions.
“This was our first involvement with Habitat in South Carolina,” Reynolds said. “We’re a 150-year-old family enterprise -- fifth generation -- and communities are our stakeholders, and we believe in that. That’s a deep value in the company that’s been there for a long, long time.”
“So we’re delighted to be a part of this process and a small part of Latonia’s journey with her children,” he said. “And we’re just thrilled to have the opportunity to do that.”
Handing Clark the keys to her new home, Reynolds said, “We wish you nothing but health, happiness, peace and God’s blessing.”
Her voice quivering with emotion, Clark thanked Walker Emulsions, Edisto Habitat for Humanity and all the volunteers, sponsors and family members who helped.
After the ceremony, volunteers began landscaping the yard, laying sod down and planting shrubbery around the house.
The home was built on one of the 30 available lots along Kings Road that were donated to Edisto Habitat for Humanity.
Habitat homeowners have to meet certain requirements before they're accepted into the program. They have to have a need for housing, be able to make an interest-free monthly payment for 25 years and must give 350 hours of time working on their own home or someone else's home. They also have to attend classes on owning a home and budgeting.
Those interested in applying for a Habitat house can fill out an application under the “Home Ownership” tab on the website, www.edistohabitatforhumanity.org.