First Posted: 5/3/2009
Nearly 80 people crowded into Christy Hensons Mount Airy home Sunday afternoon. Some were dear friends, others complete strangers.
She didnt mind, though. Until Sunday, she didnt have a house to call her own, and Sundays gathering was a dedication ceremony for the latest Mount Airy Habitat for Humanity home.
Henson, along with her son, Dalton, were thrilled to welcome those who were on hand to see the keys to her new house, on Apostle Drive, handed over to her.
At the conclusion of the ceremony a tearful Henson struggled to put into words what becoming a home owner meant to her.
Thank you is not enough, she said. I know I couldnt have this if it werent for the people here … the most important thing about all this, I have seen God work in an amazing way in the past nine months … Im very grateful and thankful and every other word in the world that would apply to this.
Habitat is a worldwide organization that began near Americus, Ga., in 1976, under the guidance of Millard and Linda Fuller. The concept is that people who cannot meet conventional loan qualifications because of no down payment or other factors, but who were otherwise able to pay a monthly mortgage, can own their own home.
Those receiving homes are required to put in a set number of hours of work on their own home, as well as other Habitat homes, thus qualifying for no down-payment, no-interest mortgages. The money they pay goes back into a building fund to help construct additional homes.
Oftentimes the homes are less expensive because much of the labor is done by volunteers, and many of the building materials are donated, or given at cost, to Habitat chapters.
In Hensons case, she said she applied for and was accepted into the Habitat home nearly a year ago, in July 2008. Afterward she worked on two other Habitat homes in Dobson before construction on her own home began.
That is the way Habitat works giving prospective home owners a chance to earn their own home through sweat equity, and then those home owners in turn help others, according to Tim VanHoy, executive director of the Greater Mount Airy Area Habitat for Humanity.
Habitats goals are providing a simple home that homeowners can afford, he told those gathered in Hensons new living room. To give first-time homeowners a start.
He said such efforts are dependent upon support from the community.
Many of you volunteered labor, others money, some business have donated items, still others brought refreshments to the work site and to Sundays dedication. We cant do this without you. You are part of our ministry.
Rev. Mike Shelton, pastor of Family Fellowship Chapel where Henson attends church, said Habitat is an example that one person can make a difference in society.
Thousands of people have owned homes because of the vision of one man, he said in reference to Fuller, the founder of Habitat. Many of those people, he said, are hard-working, deserving people who might not have ever owned a home otherwise.
He characterized Henson as such a person. When theres work to be done (at church) … shes often one of the last ones to leave…she does a lot of work in the church, sometimes work others dont see.
He said those who volunteer with Habitat are doing more than simply constructing a building.
Youre helping a family. Youre helping to create a home.
Others on hand for the dedication Sunday included Kelly Giese, president of the local Habitat board of directors, as well as members of Girl Scout Troop 1310 from Mount Carmel Baptist Church and students from Millennium Charter Academy. The Girl Scouts had taken on Hensons home as a project to help with landscaping and planting flowers, and the students from Millennium supplied a large tub worth of household supplies and built a bench that said Welcome in bright green letters painted across it.
John Peters can be reached at [email protected] or 719-1931.