The home was a product of a new initiative by Habitat called Women Build. Approximately 20 groups of women signed up throughout the spring and summer months to assemble the house.
“I’m sure it caused the blood pressure of the regular construction volunteers to rise a little bit,” joked Bernadette Douglas, secretary of the Habitat board. “But, I’m sure they feel as I did that we reached new volunteers who will go out and spread the word about Habitat, and all the good that we do for the families.”
Volunteers who signed up to work on the house raised over $10,000 through the Pay to Play program. Each group paid a set amount of money to work on the construction site at a given time. The money contributed toward the building materials needed for the house.
The spring event Hard Hat and Heels provided additional funds toward the Perez house. Guests were entertained by a band, a comedian and a hard-hat fashion show. Men from the community modeled the hats on a catwalk in the Toyota of Cleveland’s workshop before the floor was open to bids.
The success of both the Women Build and Hard Hat and Heels events persuaded the board to establish both as annual gatherings.
The amount of sweat, hard work and dedication poured into the house was not lost on Maria Perez.
She thanked everyone involved for the opportunity their hours of planning, fundraising and hands-on work had provided her and her three children, Andrea, Jose and William.
“My three children and I want to thank God for this wonderful blessing,” Perez said. “It gives me security for my family, stability for my children and an overwhelming sense of pride.
“We are just so happy about our new home.”
She thanked the ladies who worked on her home and a list of house sponsors: the Self-Help Ownership Program, the Federal Home Loan Bank of Cincinnati, the Tennessee Housing Development Agency, the George R. Johnson Family Foundation, Habitat for Humanity of Tennessee and the Bank of Cleveland.
Todd Berry of Federal Home Loan Bank of Cincinnati congratulated Perez and her family.
“It looks like a beautiful home, and I’m sure you will enjoy it for a long time,” he said before giving the young family a gift basket filled with “The Best of Cincinnati.”
Women Build participant Jennifer Cornett said she was initially nervous to participate in the program.
“I had never built a house before. It seemed a little overwhelming, but it was such a good experience,” she said. “All through these last six months or so, I personally felt like it was small things. ... We would just meet here, go here, ask some businesses for money, spend a day working, but gosh, what huge results.
“Maria, it’s absolutely beautiful. It was so worth it for your children and for ya’ll’s future together. I think working with a group of women made it all the better.”
Pastor Bob Zwarych reminded the crowd the dedication was a time for celebration.
“Maria and her family are getting a home, but not just a home, but a brand new home. We know that God is Jehovah-jireh, ‘Our God who provides,’” he said. “For all the people who had anything to do on this home, it was all a labor of love for your family.”
Zwarych presented Perez with a Bible with a simple reminder.
“Tonight you get the keys to your home,” he said. “And I like to say we give you also the keys to life contained in God’s word. We know every good and perfect gift comes from above.”
Guests at the home dedication were given a tour of the Perez home and refreshments following the conclusion of the official ceremony.
For more information on Habitat or how to volunteer, visit www.habitatofcleveland.org.