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 Wrights 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 Wrights 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 Lords 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 Wrights 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. Habitats 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
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 Wrights 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 Johnsons 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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