After eight long months of hard work that included approximately 2500 hours of volunteer labor from more than 220 individuals and groups, Spring Jones, her husband Doug and their three children Austin, Kodi and Elainna were handed the keys to their new home during a dedication ceremony on Sunday afternoon, the day before Halloween.
The newly constructed four-bedroom, two-and-a-half-bathroom home, located on Basset Street in Swanton, is the first Habitat for Humanity of Fulton County (HFHFCO) home ever built in the village and, after a few more touchups are completed, will be move-in ready sometime before Thanksgiving.
“Everybody that has walked through this door has brought a joy to my family,” said a very grateful Ms. Jones, her voice trembling with emotion. “I know we have struggled and everyone has been very very helpful.”
However, what was very important to note, as Heidi Kern, Executive Director of HFHFCO pointed out, her organization did not give the Jones family the house but rather gave them the opportunity to buy the house. It is a hand up, not a hand out. The guiding principle of Habitat for Humanity is that they enter into a “partnership” with the family and that the family agrees to a strict set of conditions involved with the project.
One of those conditions is that the family contributes at least 250 hours per adult of “sweat equity” before the home is completed. To their credit, the Jones family worked over 1300 hours on the house, far above what was required, contributing nearly $30,000 in labor costs.
But their job is not done according to the construction manager, Bob Sauder. “We’ve done the easy job here. We’ve built the house,” said Mr. Sauder. “But we’re leaving the hard part to the Jones family. And that’s making the house a home.”
More than just building a house, the FHFHCO also reinforces the structure of the family that will live there by teaching them new life skills such as financial management, basic home maintenance and upkeep and “how to be a good neighbor” as well, not to mention the skills acquired in the house’s construction.
The partnership between the Jones’ and the FHFHCO does not end with the real estate closing. Long after the moving van pulls out of the driveway, the pictures are all hung and laundry begins to accumulate in the utility room, Ms. Kern and company will still continue to mentor and guide the family toward positive futures and ensure they will be contributing members to the local community.
Bill O’Connell may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org