In the News 2003


Wrights move into finished Louisa Habitat home

By Irene Luck
The Central Virginian

Sherry Wright and her children, Jasmine and Braeden, have a place to call home –– finally!
After living in a car, with various families and Wright’s grandfather, the family moved into their new home, the first house built by the Louisa County Habitat for Humanity.
The single mother spent time in Texas before moving back to Central Virginia, returning in May of 2001. She applied to become a recipient family and was selected by the Habitat for Humanity committee in March of last year. The process of becoming a Habitat family takes several months as the prospective families are interviewed, financial details worked out and the final choice made.
“I thank God every day for my home,” said an emotional Wright, as she fought to hold back tears during the dedication ceremony at the one-story rancher held on Sunday afternoon, Apr. 13. “I would not have believed this if you could have seen me four years ago. God has worked a miracle here.”
Volunteers began working on Wright’s house on July 20, 2002 although preliminary site work had been completed earlier. After more than 2,500 volunteer hours, the 1,050-square-foot house was completed in December.
Wright and her family moved in on Feb. 25, after completing the required sweat equity hours.
“This has been a long journey for Sherry and her family,” said Estelle Rainsford, Louisa Habitat for Humanity chapter director. “There have been literally thousands of hands involved in this project in many ways — donating time, money and materials, taking up tools to construct the house, working behind the scenes to secure volunteers — people helping out in any way possible to make this dream a reality.”
Fred Richardson, who served as the construction volunteer coordinator, was the driving force behind the construction, Rainsford said. Not only did he secure the volunteer labor, but he also worked on a team and kept the project on track.
Dominion Virginia Power donated $10,000 to the chapter at a time when it was most needed, to get the organization over its fund-raising goal so that construction could begin. Several churches also donated $1,000 and provided workers for a Saturday work day to the effort while others in the community partnered with funds or manpower.
An ecumenical Christian based organization, Overton McGhee of the Greater Charlottesville Chapter, said every time someone donates money for a 2 x 4, volunteers to pick up a tool or gives a day of work, it is a miracle and all efforts are done in the Lord’s name.
“The Louisa chapter took a step of faith in constructing this first house and they will continue to walk by faith,” McGhee said. “Each new family is waiting for a miracle to happen for them and in Louisa, the citizens are waiting to be part of that effort.”
Wright, who has a back injury, was unable to complete her sweat equity hours doing physical labor on hers or another Habitat home. During the building process, Wright had surgery on her back, limiting her involvement in the building process at her home and delaying her moving in.
Instead, she volunteered at the Louisa County Library, Betty J. Queen Intergenerational Center where she worked with the senior and teen programs and completed paperwork with the local Habitat affiliates in Louisa and Charlottesville. She fulfilled her required hours writing thank you notes for the Louisa organization.
“I have a place to bring my kids each night,” Wright said. “We have a home, now.”
The three-bedroom home allows each of Wright’s children to have their own bedrooms and one for herself. The floor plan features a kitchen and dining area, bathroom, living room and front and back porches as part of the structure.
The total cost of construction is estimated at $51,000 and includes the well, septic system, clearing and excavation. Habitat’s expense amounted to $47,000 and the plot was donated by John and Ann Barber, former residents of Louisa County.
A densely wooded lot, Wright chose to keep as many of the trees as possible for shade, reducing her cooling costs. The house is equipped with a high-efficiency heat pump and back-up propane furnace.
Partnering with the Greater Charlottesville Habitat for Humanity allowed the Louisa unit to get started much sooner. The Charlottesville unit funded construction expenses in excess of $35,000 to assist in the initial building project.
On Sunday, approximately 30 people gathered at the Wright home on Walnut Woods Rd. to dedicate the house, completing the circle. Jim Wolf, chairman of the steering committee, served as master of ceremonies for the afternoon.
After a week of rain, the sun shone brightly as Wright, her family and friends and those connected with the building project joined to recognize the efforts of the fledgling organization. In an emotional ceremony, Wright was presented with the keys to her house and an album featuring the various phases of construction.
Now, the responsibility falls to Wright, who will make monthly payments of $300 for the next 30 years as she pays off her mortgage. The money will be recycled to build more houses in Louisa, benefiting additional families who fall in the gap financially in buying their own homes.
Wright not only has a home of her own, but she has a strong support system in the Habitat organization. A partner family will assist her in many ways, and she has made many friends among the volunteers.
During the ceremony, Wright told of the time she was headed to the hospital for X-rays for her back surgery when her car broke down. Not having anyone else to call, Wright phoned Rainsford, who left her job and picked her up along I-64, taking her to the hospital for her tests and then back home again.

Second home set to begin
Meanwhile, the cycle continues as a second homeowner has been selected. Belinda Johnson, who has been employed for the past 18 years at the Louisa Healthcare Center, has completed over 150 hours of sweat equity working on Wright’s home and has contributed the required $1,250 down payment and closing costs.
Her home will be located on West St. in the town of Louisa on a lot purchased by the Louisa/Fluvanna Housing Foundation which Habitat for Humanity is buying.
The necessary funding to construct Johnson’s home has been donated, according to Rainsford. But, an actual construction date has not been set since additional site supervisors are needed to begin the process. Preliminary site preparation will begin later this spring, readying the property for construction to start.
The Louisa County Habitat for Humanity chapter is currently in the process of selecting its third family and is actively holding fund raising events for that home.
For further information or to volunteer, contact Rainsford at (540) 967-0486. Tax-deductible donations may be sent to Louisa County Habitat for Humanity, P.O. Box 1179, Louisa, VA 23093.


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