“As a young kid, you work to build your money to one day build [your] house and start [planning] for your retirement,” said Daniel, who will reside in the house with his wife, Kimberly, their two children and nephew. “After the disease I said, ‘Well, God, what am I going to do now? Is my life over?’ So all my plans that I had, [were put on hold]. We went through our money. We had to move [in] with [my wife’s] mom.
“So it was a blessing when we heard that,” he said, referring to learning his family would receive a Habitat home. “God took care of us. He gave us the house that we were supposed to get and now we’re moving forward in life. It was rough. It was real rough but we made it through it. ... [It will be nice to have] somewhere I can call home again because right now we’re in the middle. We don’t have [a] home. We’re actually living out of boxes.”
For Robin Hooker, hearing the homeowners’ initial reactions when learning they have been selected is one of the highlights of being the executive director of Bartow Area Habitat for Humanity.
“It’s a big reward for us. We’ve seen families go from being in a very bad situation to being able to survive and sustain on their own,” Hooker said. “When I called the family and talked to Timothy, when I called to tell him that he was chosen to receive the Habitat house — him and his wife — his first comment was, ‘Praise the Lord, I finally get a place that ... I’m not worried about my children, I’m not worried about trying to get in and out of the house because there’s a handicapped ramp.’
“He was extremely thrilled,” she said, adding his previous residence was not wheelchair accessible. “He said, ‘I feel like I’ve been reborn.’ So it was really a very emotional moment. So it thrills us, especially when we do that first phone call to tell them that they’ve been approved but also at the dedication. That’s very rewarding to us — when we finally are able to pass the keys.”
Since forming in 1984, Bartow Area Habitat for Humanity has constructed about 40 residences.
An average of 150 people apply each year, with 10 percent of their applications being further reviewed. 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 about $110,000, the nonprofit’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.
The Daniels’ home is the first of three of Habitat residences that will be built this year with funding provided by a Community Development Block Grant that was awarded to the city of Cartersville in November 2009. To help the next house become a nurturing home for its future owners, Hooker said they are seeking volunteers for the project at 23 Fairview St. in Cartersville. Starting this weekend, the nearly five-week build — led by general contractor is Don Liotta with Outside the Box Construction — will need volunteers each Saturday starting at 8:30 a.m.
“All the Habitat houses are built with volunteers,” Hooker said, adding individuals and businesses, such as Lowe’s and Wells Fargo, volunteered on the Daniels build. “We do have some paid labor but it’s very important for us to have the volunteers because, if we don’t, we can’t complete the project in a timely manner. So it’s extremely important for us. We need all the hands we can on deck.
“What a lot of people don’t know is these homes are purchased by the homeowners from Habitat and then Habitat actually does a 30-year mortgage on the home. So we’re a hand up. We’re not necessarily a hand out. We don’t just give the houses away for free. The families actually work on their own homes. They help to build their homes. So we’ve found that the houses are much more built with love, much more goes into it than just a standard house does. It takes every volunteer as well as the homeowners to actually build the house and to make the houses what they are, which is actually a home.”
For more information about Habitat or to volunteer in its current build, contact Hooker at 770-382-6293 or email email@example.com. Volunteers are needed weekly on Saturdays, 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.