Habitat’s presence a blessing for Suffolk

Published 12:00 am Friday, January 14, 2005

There are few stories as uplifting as that of Habitat for Humanity. On Saturday, a dedication was held for the organization’s 17th completed home in Suffolk. The 1,500 square foot, three-bedroom home on Smith Street is now occupied by Latresa Wilson, a single mother of two. No doubt Wilson will look upon this event as a gift from God who, after all, is the one to thank for the existence of Habitat.

The numbers are impressive. Roughly 20 different construction groups came to work on Wilson’s home on Saturdays while churches and other groups provided food for the workers. Nearly every weekday evening, volunteers would come to work. It’s estimated that probably 80 people took part.

Wilson did her part as well. The office administrator at Pak-al packing company was on the scene most days hammering nails, painting, doing cleanup and lawn maintenance among other duties. Her &uot;sweat equity&uot; is a requirement for Habitat homeowners. The philosophy is basic: That people will take pride in something they’ve worked for and do what is necessary to maintain it, which is not always the case when something is simply given away.

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None of the Habitat homes has ever been repossessed or condemned, so it’s a philosophy that is valid.

It’s difficult not to shed a tear as one imagines the joy Wilson and her children must have felt upon moving into their new home, being granted such a wonderful opportunity by a group of committed, caring neighbors in Suffolk.

In about two months, Habitat will begin building home number 18, this one on Charles Street for a woman and her five children, who will no doubt be as grateful and proud as Wilson and her family.

At the event Saturday, Ashley Kooncz, daughter of project director Angela Kooncz, welcomed the Wilsons to their new home with a rendition of &uot;Bless this House.&uot;

The house was blessed, as was the lives of Wilson and her children. We’re all blessed to have an organization such as Habitat for Humanity and its volunteers working in our community.