“For me, I am really, really happy,” Santus Molly said as he showed friends, family, community members and Habitat board members his family’s new home. “I can’t say anything more than we own a brand-new house, and my kids will have their own room. I am really, really happy.”
Added his wife, Ersina, “This is our first home in the United States. It is a really good thing for us.”
The two hail from the Federated States of Micronesia located in the Pacific Ocean. Their interaction with Habitat spans almost two years and included three applications, several courses and hours on the build site. Both agreed Tuesday all of the hard work was worth the end result.
Similar sentiments were shared by the Freemans during the home dedication service.
Mindie stood before the large crowd and thanked the Lord before she explained how her family became involved with Habitat.
“A lady who works for Habitat came into my husband’s work one day to shop and she talked with him. In time she got to know my husband, and about our family,” Mindie said. “One day she brought an application in to my husband. From that day, that is the way our journey began. And on our journey, we have met wonderful new people and made new friends.”
She thanked family, friends, volunteers and the builders who worked together to build the Freeman and Molly homes.
Added Mindie, “Thank you from the bottom of our hearts. It means the world to us.”
Volunteer Coordinator Anna Carmichael also offered the organization’s thanks to volunteers and supporters during Tuesday’s dedication.
“Today we have all come together to celebrate two wonderful families, the gift of homeownership and the hope and security it brings,” she said. “However, days like today would not be possible without our amazing volunteers. From the ReStore to the construction site, committees and office work, they all contribute to the bigger picture, which is right behind you.”
Two tents set up on the far side of the Molly’s front yard blocked the hot sun as Carmichael continued to speak. She recognized all of the volunteers for their hours of hard work. As she spoke, the crowd could see the two new homes now standing as a part of the Victory Cove subdivision.
Volunteers Ed McCartney and Mara Grisham were recognized for going above and beyond the call of service. They both received the Habitat Hero award.
Habitat Executive Director Matt Carlson reminded the crowd it would be impossible to build the homes without someone providing the money to purchase the materials.
He listed Toyota of Cleveland, the George R. Johnson Family Foundation and the city of Cleveland Community Development Block Grant program as being the financial sponsors of the Molly’s four bedroom, two bath home.
Likewise, the Freeman home was supported through the efforts of Federal Home Bank of Cincinnati, and through the company, the Bank of Cleveland. In addition, the Tennessee Housing Development Agency helped to make the home a possibility.
Executive Director of THDA Ralph Perrey was invited to say a couple of words to the crowd.
“All of you really deserve a lot of credit for the work you have done here. We at THDA are proud to have played a small part in helping that along,” he said. “You probably know us as the folks who provide mortgage financing for first-time home buyers, something we have done about 112,000 times since we were started.”
Continued Perrey, “What you may not know is that the money we earn from those programs, we reinvest for worthy efforts like this. Many of the families that move into Habitat Homes move a little bit easier, thanks to a zero percent new-start mortgage we make available.”
Additional thanks were given to Fenimore’s Floral Design Studio, Joy Christian Fellowship Church, Welcome Friends, Cleveland High School, The Caring Place, photographer Melinda Nicodemus and Quilting with a Purpose.
Although Tuesday’s home dedication revealed the local nonprofit has much support, Habitat might find it needs more volunteers in the near future. Ersina explained she has told many friends, families and co-workers about the opportunity provided to her family through Habitat.
“We are going to start a new life for our kids,” she said. “Now they are going to have their own rooms and we are going to try to be a good family by helping each other.”