The most recent pair of homes are being purchased by John Shaw, a single dad raising 6-year-old son, Devon, and LA and Amanda Massengill who are raising three sons — Kendall, 15; Colby, 9; and Cory, 5.
As is a pivotal component of Habitat for Humanity, both families worked shoulder-to-shoulder and elbow-to-elbow with volunteers to build their houses. Habitat calls this “sweat equity” which is a requirement of all families who are purchasing modest homes through the organization.
Matt Carlson, executive director of the local Habitat affiliate, said the organization not only constructs new homes in partnership with qualifying families, it also works to educate the public and promote community awareness about how the agency operates.
“In spite of our efforts to promote awareness about our mission, many people still believe Habitat for Humanity gives houses to our family partners,” Carlson said. “This is certainly not the case nor is it our intent. Families help to build their own homes and they pay for them.”
Payment is through a zero percent mortgage arranged through Habitat for Humanity. Mortgage payments by new homeowners are then reinvested back into Habitat programming toward the construction of future homes.
Habitat’s theme centers around this mode of operation. The organization calls its, “Giving a Hand Up, not a Hand Out.”
Currently, Habitat for Humanity of Cleveland is building houses in its Century Village development off 20th Street adjacent to Blythe-Bower Elementary School. The homes built in partnership with the Shaw and Massengill families are in Century Village.
Once development is completed in Century Village, probably sometime in 2013, the subdivision will hold more than 40 Habitat houses.
Shaw, who served two years in the U.S. Navy as a Signal Man on the USS Carr, was stationed in Charleston, S.C. After his Navy years, he moved back to his hometown in Detroit, Mich., but was talked into moving to Cleveland by friends.
“John and Devon fell in love with Cleveland, and even after his friends decided to move to Florida, he chose to stay here,” according to Teresa Curvin, family services director of the local Habitat affiliate.
Shaw has worked at Whirlpool Cleveland Division for the past three years as an assembly line operator. His son Devon, who Curvin described as a “ ... handsome 6-year-old who can melt your heart with his smile,” attends kindergarten at George R. Stuart Elementary School.
“Devon is really looking forward to moving into his home ... the neighborhood playground (also furnished through Habitat for Humanity in a previous project) is right next door,” Curvin said.
Shaw, who Whirlpool co-workers affectionately call “The Habitat Man,” thanked Habitat for Humanity for helping his small family to realize a dream.
“Devon and I are very blessed and grateful to have this opportunity to purchase a home,” Shaw said. “I thought we’d be renting for the rest of our lives. Thank you to everyone who is helping to make our dream come true.”
The Massengills came from different states and met in Tennessee.
LA Massengill originally hails from Middleton, Ohio, and Amanda from Middlesboro, Ky. LA’s aunt introduced the couple. They were married in 2004. They moved to Cleveland so that LA could enroll at Lee University.
They have three children. Kendall, the 15-year-old, races BMX bikes and attends Cleveland High School. Colby, 9, plays baseball and attends Blythe-Bower Elementary School. Cory, 5, also attends Blythe-Bower. Their mom, Amanda, works at McKee Bakery.
LA is now a full-time Lee student. Upon graduation in spring 2011, he will hold a degree in pastoral ministries. LA currently is a youth pastor at Unity Christian Church.
The Cleveland Habitat affiliate’s work continues. Later this week, volunteers with the Ocoee Regional Builders Association (ORBA) will kick off their own labor of love on yet another Habitat house. Currently, a Habitat house is being built by Lee University. Its completion should come in early December, Carlson explained.
Official announcements and details will come later, but in mid-October Habitat for Humanity of Cleveland and Whirlpool operations based in Cleveland — the manufacturing plant, the call center and the engineering and tech center — will launch a special blitz build in Century Village to commemorate two major occasions, the local Habitat affiliate’s 20th anniversary and the 100th anniversary of Whirlpool Corporation.
Details on this historic build will be announced soon by Habitat and Whirlpool in partnership with the Cleveland Daily Banner.