Family finally moves into Habitat home

Published 12:00 am Saturday, October 29, 2005

Rosemary Holmes knew her time would come.

Even when construction on her four-bedroom, two-bathroom Habitat for Humanity house slowed for several weeks this summer, she kept the faith.

Her perseverance paid off Thursday when more than two dozen friends, family members and Habitat volunteers turned out to watch Holmes snip the red ribbon stretched across the threshold of her new Charles Street home.

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&uot;I knew it would happen eventually,&uot; said Holmes, slightly teary-eyed as she looked around her new house. &uot;I still can’t believe they did all this for little ole me.

&uot;It’s given me something better … a better, safer place to raise my children.&uot;

This weekend, volunteers from Kilby Shores Elementary School will help the family move into their new home.

The school, where most of Holmes’ five grandchildren attend class, has adopted the family, said Arnette Streat, a family friend and teacher. In fact, employees at the school have chipped in, donating furniture, linens and dishes to help the family get off to a fresh start.

Holmes’ grandchildren played in their freshly landscaped front yard Thursday afternoon, stopping only long enough to pose for family pictures.

&uot;I love it,&uot; said Jamal Holmes, 10. &uot;I think God is helping us. He has given us peace, joy and happiness.&uot;

His brother, 7-year-old Kyrese Holmes, nodded furiously.

&uot;I think a bunch of people helped too,&uot; he added. &uot;Everybody wanted to build this house.&uot;

In fact, Kyrese is exactly right.

Progress on the house was stymied early this summer by a public dispute between South Hampton Road Habitat for Humanity and former Suffolk Habitat Project Manager Angela Koncz.

The Norfolk-based organization ousted Koncz after learning that she and several long-time volunteers planned to establish a competing organization designed to provide affordable housing, Building Suffolk Inc. The matter was eventually revolved behind closed doors in Suffolk Circuit Court with both organizations vowing to move forward on similar, separate projects.

Fund-raising and volunteer recruitment initially slowed down after the publicity surrounding the divide within the organization, said John Morgan, executive director of the South Hampton Roads Habitat for Humanity. But things appear to be on the upswing again.

&uot;Interest is picking back up,&uot; said Morgan. &uot;People in Suffolk are still supporting Habitat and I think it will get only get better.

&uot;We are continuing to fundraise in Suffolk,&uot; he continued. &uot;All money raised in Suffolk will be used for affordable housing in Suffolk.&uot;

Habitat officials are excited about the opportunities they see in Suffolk, Morgan said.

The organization has already secured a piece of property on Fifth Street for its next house, he added. Although he has been talking with developers and contractors about several projects, nothing is official yet, Morgan added.