Family of three prepares to move into Habitat home
by Marie Nesmith
May 15, 2011 | 4403 views | 0 0 comments | 24 24 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Lowe’s Susan Haney holds a board while another volunteer hammers it in place.
SKIP BUTLER/The Daily Tribune News
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In a few weeks, Becky Frasier's dream of having a home will become a reality, courtesy of the Bartow Area Habitat for Humanity.

Located on Courrant Street in Cartersville, the 1,350-square-foot, three-bedroom, two-bath residence will enable her two teenage daughters to have their own bedrooms and provide her the opportunity to foster her gardening interests. Now living in a cramped two-bedroom apartment, the single mother said she is extremely grateful for the community's assistance with building her future home.

"It has been a blessing," she said. "I had no idea that so many people had such love in their hearts that they could take their time on a Saturday to come out and spend six or eight hours working on someone else's home. It was a blessing. I was shocked to see the amount of people that turned out. I was overwhelmed, really overwhelmed. I'm so excited [to see the work progress].

"I stand back from the house several times while we're there and I get all welled up inside thinking, 'Is this really happening?' ... I know this probably sounds crazy but [what I am looking forward to most is working] in the yard. Now the yard isn't very much. It's little, but I cannot wait to plant flowers and [create] my own little flower garden. My mother loved flowers, and she had roses and [other types of] flowers. And she worked in [her] garden until she couldn't work in it anymore. And I cannot wait to transplant some of her roses and things that my sister has taken and kept for me."

With only two more workdays remaining, Robin Hooker -- the local Habitat's executive director -- is looking forward to presenting Frasier with the keys to her home.

"[This] week we will be working on probably painting the outside and [soon after] doing the inside," Hooker said. "I mean we are so close. ... [It's hard to believe] we started [with] digging a hole with a shovel and breaking ground to [now we are] really seeing the reality of a house going up, our homeowner family working and partnering with us, the sweat that the homeowner family has worked on their home, just the tears that you see them have [and] just the overjoyment of receiving a Habitat house.

"My homeowner called me the other day and she's like, 'I'm so excited.' And then a couple of hours later she called me back and she said, 'I really am so excited because I'm seeing something happening.' But the experience of me handing those keys over is probably the most rewarding experience in my job because it is such reality. The family really knows that it's theirs at that point in time."

Since its inception in 1984, Habitat has constructed 34 residences. On average, 150 people apply each year, with 10 percent of the applications being further evaluated. To be approved, applicants need to satisfy various requirements, such as meeting income guidelines, living or working in Bartow County for at least one year, contributing at least 450 hours in their home's construction and being able to pay for their home.

Valued at about $110,000, the organization's homes are sold for about $75,000. House payments issued by Habitat range from $400 to $425 a month, which includes taxes and insurance.

"We have a huge need in Bartow County for housing," Hooker said. "There is a huge percentage of families that are living in substandard housing here in Bartow County. There is a lot of people that are homeless that are living with other families just in order to make ends meet. They've been let go from their jobs. They just cannot live without some other type of assistance, and we are finding every single day and getting phone calls every day that there is huge need in our area for housing for families that just cannot get a conventional loan, and they need help.

"Our biggest concern is we have to have money donated in order for us to build those houses. That's a huge need for us. We need money and we need product that can actually be used on a house -- new product [such as] doors and windows and siding and things like that that are brand new that we can actually use in a house to kind of cut our cost back. We've got some great sponsors but the unfortunate part is that without the money part, it's almost impossible to build a house."

To help the nonprofit's efforts to provide affordable, quality residences, the city of Cartersville is partnering with Habitat for Humanity to build six residences in the next two years, the first being Frasier's home. The Habitat project is being funded by a Community Development Block Grant that was awarded to the city in November 2009.

The current build also was assisted by a $5,000 Lowe's Women Build Grant. The Cartersville business also sponsored a Lowe's Women Build workday on May 4 in which Lowe's employees guided volunteers with projects, such as setting windows and doors and preparing walls for insulation.

"We've had some incredible companies sponsor our lunch and different companies sponsor this build, just helping us out," Hooker said on Wednesday, adding the home's construction started on April 23. "It has just been amazing, what we've had. We have been truly blessed with people coming out [who are] dedicated. We've had anywhere from 20 to 30 people every single week out on our build site working, every Wednesday and Saturday.

"... I just want to say thank you to our community that's come out and participated and been a part of this exciting event. [I am] looking forward to continuing to work with our volunteers. We've had some of the best volunteers you could ever imagine on this build, and we are so looking forward to having those volunteers back on our next build as well as new volunteers coming out and helping us with Habitat," she said, referring to Habitat's next building project at 407 Johnson St., which will tentatively start in June.

With the assistance provided by Lowe's and the project's general contractor -- Don Liotta with Outside the Box Construction -- Frasier said she has learned an immense amount of knowledge concerning carpentry projects. Through this experience, she has formed friendships and now is excited about having the opportunity to help future Habitat homeowners construct their residences.

"The other two couples that are getting a house, they are married and they have children," Frasier said. "We have become close through this whole thing, and we have had the best time. I cannot wait until I can get started on their home. We've learned so much, because in [the beginning of] the building process we knew nothing.

"The first thing one of Don's assistants asked us -- his name is Daniel -- he said, 'Does anybody know how to use a hammer?' And there were six girls standing there, and I raised my hand and said, 'I can hammer a nail on the wall to hang a picture.' And [then he] ... taught us every step, and we grew so close in the whole learning process of building a house. I cannot wait [to work on more building projects]. And not only on these two builds will I help, but in the future when there's more I will be there to help."

For more information on the Bartow Area Habitat for Humanity, call 770-382-6293 or email Hooker at director@bartowhabitat.org.