PILOT MOUNTAIN — Habitat for Humanity’s representatives were under a Carolina blue sky Wednesday afternoon praising the efforts of Clemson orange as a team from the South Carolina school worked on the home as part of a collegiate challenge component helping the organization.
Pilot Mountain Mayor Pro Tem Linda Needham, Commissioners Gary Bell and Dwight Atkins as well as Mayor Earl Sheppard and Town Manager Homer Dearmin were on hand to praise the students work as the home nears completion.
“I want to recognize your efforts and congratulate you on traveling here to do this,” said Sheppard. “You’re giving back to this community is so important.” He told the students the town had assembled gift packets for them with coupons as well as toboggans. He encouraged the group to try climbing Pilot Mountain again to really enjoy the view since weather on Sunday limited visibility when the group make the trip.
Clemson Lutheran campus pastor Chris Heavner related how important the team’s habit of meeting together at the end of the work day to reflect on what had happened.
“Unless you stop and consider deviation from your normal routine you don’t take time for something that matters,” said Heavner. He praised Pilot Mountain’s willingness “to open up their lives, hearts and the town for us. We always come back with great stories and memories from here.”
Brief conversations with students indicated they enjoyed working with the home’s family. Habitat Executive Director Lynn Wilkes said the home is being constructed for Sharon and Darin Hodges and their family. The couple said their family has grown with the addition of three grandchildren, Brooklyn, Abigail and Colin. The couple said they are living in a 17-year old mobile home that houses the family of eight. Both said their home has seen better days and look forward to the comfort of the Habitat home they are helping to build.
Clemson animal science major Hannah Creech said she was enjoying getting to know the Hodges.
“This is the first big team build I have been involved with,” said Creech. “Every homecoming we usually do a build at Bowman Field on campus before it’s transported away. Getting to know the family is the coolest thing.” Creech said she is from a family who is used to community service and has been involved in adopt a highway clean up projects. She said the work is difficult but working together as a group and “seeing the smiles on the family’s faces is just awesome.”
Creech said she is from Betesburg-Leesville, S.C., so the colder weather here has been an adjustment. Fellow student Derek Johnson said he has been involved in many Habitat builds. The senior from Goose Creek, S.C., is majoring in computer engineering. He agreed with Creech that it had been especially meaningful to get to know the home’s family. He said he first became interested in Habitat through his church youth group while he was in high school. Later on, knowing Heavner through church contacts made his transition to the college program natural.
“This is my first experience with home building,” commented senior Suvette Sharpe. “Earlier this week I spent the whole morning painting overhead. We got the paint mostly on the ceiling… I think.” She said some on the site had asked her if she had dancing experience because of the way she twirled when she painted.
“I heard the group was coming to North Carolina, I thought it would be a good way to give back and be cool to see the mountains and Mount Airy, so it wasn’t too much culture shock for me,” said the native of Lexington, S.C.
Heavener said the church’s efforts in partnership with Clemson and Pickens County’s Habitat for Humanity had resulted in 38 homes being built in their area.
“We have had a strong response from our students,” commented Heavener. “Evangelical outreach is important to us because we feel it is caring for those who Jesus would have cared for.” Heavner explained that the campus ministry group with a dozen members is a part of a university Habitat for Humanity chapter that has been active for 20 years.
He said the group enjoyed the support of St. Andrew Lutheran Church in Mount Airy and that Haymore Baptist Church had given them a place to stay while they are working on the home. Meals for the students were provided by Mount Airy Wesleyan church, Haymore Baptist, The Sanctuary Church, The Antioch Baptist Church sisterhood and by Chick-fil-A.
The meal provided on Wednesday by Chick-fil-A franchise owner and operator Chad Tidd had a special connection for the students because Tidd is an avid Clemson fan.
Reach David Broyles at email@example.com or 719-1952.